Clint Decker didn’t come from a musical background. 

He served in Iraq in 2003. Things were slowing down, so he ordered a guitar and had plans to learn how to play. But as happens in war, things picked back up again and Clint didn’t get the chance to pick up that guitar. In fact he didn’t lay hands on a guitar until about four years ago when he was back in Montana. 

“Montana winters are long,” says Clint. The VA diagnosed him with PTSD after his return from Iraq. Playing music helped elevate his mood. 

In the fall of 2015, Clint became involved with Mission 22, an organization started in response to the alarming statistic of 22 veterans a day committing suicide. Montana lost 50 veterans in 2015 alone. “We were number 1 and that’s not what we want to be number 1 for,” says Clint. 

Then Clint had that light bulb moment - music therapy. He knew it was being used to treat dementia, traumatic brain injuries, and a host of other challenges. The VA was already promoting its Guitars for Vets program, but he didn’t want to be limited to guitars. 

He put the word out - fliers, Facebook. As a member of the local VFW, he hosted the first gathering of the Hero Sound Project there, but with mixed emotions.  “I really wanted it to look and feel more therapeutic. I didn’t want to be sitting in the back of the bar,” says Clint. 

It happened that Marty at the VFW was friends with the ZACC’s Kia Lizsak and connected her with Clint. He pitched the idea to her and the Hero Sound Project found its current home on April 21, 2016. The group meets weekly in the ZACC’s basement.  

A new ZACC would offer the Hero Sound Project more room to grow. The basement of the current ZACC isn’t ADA compliant so a new space would certainly increase access.  

Beyond playing music, Clint would like to see classes on running soundboards, lights, stage management. “There’s an art and technical side of music, the backdrop, the projection, the production. Now that I’m diving in, there’s so much more to learn,” says Clint. 

For over a decade now, Clint has been working on himself. “Music has been the catalyst to get my life moving forward. When you’re holding a guitar everything else goes away.”

So while he didn’t come from a musical background, music has become Clint’s future. 

Rock Outlet. Found at the ZACC.