Nonprofit making sure veterans aren't alone during pandemic

Posted at 7:10 AM, Apr 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-09 15:12:41-04

It’s not unusual for Brett Gillan to play guitar alone in a thrift store on 12th South. While he’s by himself, he still has an audience.

“I can’t see them. I can only read what they write,” Brett Gillan, Program Director for CreatiVets. “It’s weird at first, because you’re sitting here talking to yourself.”

That’s because he’s live streaming guitar lessons to veterans.

“It’s very much like you’re sitting in class," he said.

Gillan is doing it with CreatiVets, a nonprofit helping veterans heal through music and art. Co-founder Richard Casper served in the U.S. Marine Corps.

”I was just so afraid with this pandemic that veteran suicide would go through the roof,” said Richard Casper, co-founder of CreatiVets. “A lot of veterans are forced to stay home which brings back those triggers from the past."

In a partnership with "Operation Stand Down Tennessee," he set up this streaming studio as a way to visit veterans, like Domingo Rodriguez in Dallas.

“It’s all about team work. You’re rarely alone, there’s always someone that’s there for you,” said Rodriguez.

Storytelling is also being taught through collage art by artist Wayne Brezinka, who is using familiar objects like medallions and patches to make self-portraits .

“I want them to know it’s safe to use an option to help them heal from their recovery," he said.

CreatiVets posts all their streaming programs on their social media websites. Click here for more information.


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What is COVID-19 (a.k.a. the new coronavirus?)

According to the World Health Organization, coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases. Examples include the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV)and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). A novel coronavirus (nCoV) is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans. COVID-19 stands for "Coronavirus disease 2019," which is when this strain of the coronavirus was discovered.

What are the symptoms?

The CDC says patients confirmed to have the 2019-nCoV reportedly had mild to severe respiratory illness with:

  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing

Or at least two of the following symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Repeated shaking with chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • New loss of taste or smell

At this time, the CDC believes symptoms could appear as soon as two days after exposure, or as long as 14 days.


The CDC is recommending "common sense" measures such as:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when around others.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.