Vets Who Rock: Kelly Drayer Teaches Guitar to Vets Suffering From PTSD
Kelly Drayer takes a personal day each year and heads to the James J. Peters VA Medical Center in the Bronx. He carries with him breakfast and lunch vouchers purchased with his annual bonus and reaches out to hungry veterans at the hospital.
“They don’t have money to buy a lunch or a breakfast, so I sit at a table and hand out food vouchers,” Kelly said.
Kelly, a Saugerties resident, served 20 years in the Marine Corps. Now, he serves the country and his community through his work at the Department of Veterans Affairs and his volunteer service.
“He believes it’s not just his duty, but an obligation to help others,” his wife Amy Drayer said in her nomination letter to WPDH for our Vets Who Rock program. “This coming from a man who put his time in the armed forces and now works for the Veterans Administration. A loving father who balances family, work and life all while fighting his own battles, recently being diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.”
Despite facing down a cancer diagnosis, Kelly finds time to teach guitar lessons to veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder through the Guitar Four Vets program. He beams with pride talking about the success some of his students have achieved.
“It’s really a great, great forum for these veterans to take these lessons. It’s a lot of fun too. I actually had one of guitarists just go down to Nashville, and he’s going to do a CD,” Kelly said.
In addition to teaching through Guitar For Vets, Kelly finds time to give networking advice and computer lessons to unemployed veterans.
Kelly’s volunteer work extends beyond veterans. He teaches guitar lessons to young musicians at the Percussion Orchestra of Kingston and volunteers as an online mentor for STEM students at the New York Academy of Science.
Kelly’s volunteerism and his focus on putting others before himself makes him one of WPDH’s Vets Who Rock. He said he’ll be putting the $500 he won from the program into more food vouchers for hungry veterans. This big-heartedness won’t come as a surprise to Amy Drayer or his other friends and family.