Gabriela Mejia is an artist using her creative talents to decorate colorful guitars for Veterans. Mejia grew up in Colorado hearing stories about her grandfather, who served during WWII. These stories, passed down through the generations, instilled a deep respect for Veterans and their service, as well as a deep sense of patriotism.

As a young woman, Mejia adored nature and culture. Skilled in dance, she earned a spot on the Barefoot Hawaiians, a dance group that often volunteered to perform in Veteran homes across the country. Many of these Veterans served at Pearl Harbor and relished the opportunity to watch Mejia and her Polynesian dance group, which brought back happy memories of younger days.

She recently found a new opportunity to support Veterans and express her passion for patriotism through a new VA and Challenge America collaborative online pilot project.

Originally, the pilot project was a music therapy program to support Veterans who struggle with post-traumatic stress, traumatic brain injury and military sexual trauma. It soon extended beyond music, as Challenge America invited local artists to decorate guitars it donates to participants.

Once Mejia learned about this opportunity from a friend, she immediately signed up—for as much as she loves dancing and painting, she adores music.

woman artist with colorfully decorated guitars

Mejia’s guitar

She arranged to get her guitar later that week and feverishly began creating a design that infused her patriotic spirit and love of nature. While her efforts earned her the top prize in the Challenge America Guitar Design Competition, she simply hopes the guitar she designed evokes optimism.

Mejia emphasized, “Music is very healing. Just picking up a guitar and strumming it can stir up positive feelings and motivation.”

There is no doubt the lucky Veteran who receives Mejia’s designed guitar will feel both motivated and inspired.

To see many more inspired volunteer Challenge America guitar designs, visit challengeamerica.com/decorated-guitars.

By Dallas Blaney is the executive director of Challenge America

Share this story

Published on Jul. 5, 2022

Estimated reading time is 1.6 min.

Views to date: 595

One Comment

  1. Philip Ulmer July 6, 2022 at 7:09 pm

    Because I have been having problems with my teeth and am a trumpet player i have been unable to play in years. I would love to receive a guitar so I could play again.

Comments are closed.

More Stories

  • Each year, the Veterans Day National Committee hosts the annual Veterans Day observance at Arlington National Cemetery. This year, 33 communities in 25 states and the District of Columbia will also host VA-recognized Veterans Day observances to pay tribute to America’s heroes.

  • Seeing a doctor can be a challenge for people living in rural communities. That’s why VA is making it easier than ever for Veterans to access health care. 

  • The Community Catalyst Award will honor organizations for excellence in building solutions that improve experiences for the Veteran community.