Personalized and therapeutic music floods the hearts and lifts the spirits of veterans residing at the new Geri-Psych 10-bed ward at Fort Bayard State Veterans Home — thanks in part to a $1,200 Veteran Projects Fund grant alafoundation.org/grants/ from the American Legion Auxiliary (ALA) Foundation, plus $300 from the ALA Department of New Mexico. The ward opened in February 2016.
Music and Memory is a new program initiative for the New Mexico VA Health Care System’s Geri-Psych veterans.
“Music has been demonstrated to improve the quality of life and generate a variety of therapeutic outcomes,” said Nan Gile, certified recreation therapist for the Geri-Psych unit. “Currently, musical interventions offered to in-patients are time-limited, in a group format, and are not person specific. Research has shown personalized music increases the benefits of music for patients regardless of cognitive, physical, or social situation in many ways.”
Gile said she is able to create and manage customized playlists for each patient, incorporating input from the veterans and their loved ones. The music then gets downloaded and delivered via MP3 player/iPods following all VA and Office of Mental Health Operations’ safety guidelines.
“When Nan brought forth this project, I knew it was a great project and was proud to bring it to the attention of the ALA Foundation,” said Mary Lou Lopez, the ALA’s Veterans Affairs Voluntary Service representative for the Department of New Mexico. “We all recognize how the arts and music has proven to help our veterans.”
Founded in 2007, the ALA Foundation alafoundation.org/ is a 501(c)(3) public benefit corporation of the ALA. The ALA Foundation offers an easier way for corporations and individuals to donate money toward the ALA mission. ALA Foundation donations are used to support the Veteran Projects Fund, which supports ALA projects that address the emergent needs of veterans. For example, some of those funds also have been used to renovate a veterans homeless shelter, to purchase computer stations and laptops for other veterans facilities, and to have local and National Veterans Creative Arts Festivals. ALA Foundation donations also support the Mission Endowment Fund — which uses the interest on donations paid into the fund to support ALA programs. This ensures that future generations may benefit from Auxiliary programs that support veterans and their families.
For more about the ALA Foundation read our blog, How Your Gift to The American Legion Auxiliary Foundation Helps Mission Outreach at alaforveterans.wordpress.com/2017/09/20/how-your-gift-to-the-american-legion-auxiliary-foundation-helps-mission-outreach/.