Intersection of Music and Mental Health: Military and Veterans

There is a crisis among our service members and veterans that is rarely seen but felt by all those who care for them.

An invisible wound is a cognitive, emotional, or behavioral condition that can be associated with trauma or serious adverse life events. These wounds manifest themselves in military populations as major depressive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and traumatic brain injury (TBI). Service members, including veterans, afflicted with these conditions have higher rates of unhealthy behaviors, physical health problems, and mortality. These invisible wounds have a ripple effect in their community and are putting unprecedented strain on families and relationships. This strain contributes to the severity of the service member's disability over the course of time, creating a feedback loop of trauma and despair. Music based experiences are an engaging, motivating, and affirmative healing process that improves mental health outcomes and experiences for military personnel, veterans, their families, and their community at large.

From personal enjoyment to structured therapeutic programs, music experiences for vets can:

  •  Improve emotional expression and regulation
  •  Improve speech, motor, and cognitive functioning
  •  Increase awareness of self, including recognizing and validating individual strengths
  •  Increase motivation for and reception to treatment
  •  Create a sense of community
  •  Decrease symptoms of anxiety and depression while boosting mood
  •  Provide a sense of purpose
  •  Enhance overall quality of life

Join leading experts to explore and put forth agendas of action for research and programming focused on the arts as a viable tool for improving the mental health and wellbeing of our military populations.

Watch the livestream.

View the event program.

Film Screening and Panel Discussion: Music Vets

Thursday, January 26, 2023
6:30 p.m. (Doors open at 6:00 p.m.)
Berklee Performance Center, 136 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston MA 02115
Free (no ticket required)

Brought to you by the Music and Health Institute as part of the Exchange Series, Music Vets tells the story of three proud U.S. military veterans in different stages of recovery from PTSD and/or traumatic brain injuries. Set in the coastal military communities of Southern California and the hustle and bustle of New York City, vets Lito, Ben, and Deborah offer us a glimpse of humanity’s resiliency in the face of adversity. Though they each have very different backgrounds and military experience, all three use the therapeutic power of music to cope and recover—unlocking emotions and finding new ways forward.

Intersection of Music and Mental Health: Military and Veterans

Friday, January 27, 2023
9:30 a.m.
David Friend Recital Hall, 921 Boylston Street, Boston MA 02115
Ticketed (Free)

9:30 a.m.: Registration/Check-In
Coffee and Conversation

10:00 a.m.: Welcome/Opening Remarks
Dr. David Bogen, Ph.D., Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs, Berklee College of Music
Darla S. Hanley, Ph.D., Dean, Professional Education Division, Berklee College of Music
Joy Allen, PhD, M.T.-B.C., Chair, Music Therapy Department, Berklee College of Music

10:15 a.m.:  Healing Invisible Wounds: Songs, Stories, and Science
Kristin Starling, Executive Director, Songwriting with Soldiers
Terry Radigan, Grammy-nominated Singer/Songwriter
Ron Hirschberg, M.D., Senior Director of Health and Wellness, Project Home Base; Assistant Professor of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R), Harvard Medical School; Director of the PM&R Consultation Service at Massachusetts General Hospital
Rebecca Vaudreuil Ed.M., M.T.-B.C., Lead Music Therapist, Creative Forces

12:00 p.m.: From Therapeutic to Therapy
Music and the PTSD Brain
Mack Bailey, M.M., M.T.-B.C., Founder, Music Therapy of the Rockies

Veteran Voices: A Portrait of Experiences with Music and Imagery
K. Maya Story, Ph.D., M.T.-B.C., Core Investigator, VA HSR&D Center for Health Information and Communication
Brittany Costa, M.A., M.T.-B.C., Soldier, 101st Army Band

1:00 p.m: Lunch (to be provided)

1:45 p.m.: Music Therapy on Film: A Conversation with Music Vets Codirectors

El Sawyer, Filmmaker and Social Justice Advocate, Cofounder of MING Media
Jon Kaufman, Director, Producer, Cinematographer, Cofounder of MING Media

2:15 p.m.: Guitars with Vets
Rev. Dr. Lynn Smith-Henry, Lt. Col. U.S. Army Ret., Veterans' Guitar Project
Kim Perlak, D.M.A., Chair, Berklee Guitar Department

3:00 p.m.: M + H Freestyle: Roundtable Discussions
An opportunity for participants to reflect on presentations shared, exchange ideas, and explore key issues, trends, and practices related to music and wellness for veterans, military, and the surrounding community.

4:00 p.m.: Wrap-Up/Closing Reception

Livestreaming of the Friday event will be available at