Every note Gary Witt sings and plays on his guitar is like a dose of medicine to his audience.
"It makes a difference," said Witt. "You see a smile come on their face when you walk in the room."
Witt volunteers as a performer in nursing homes around the Lynchburg area. The people who hear his music often suffer from Alzheimer's disease and dementia.
"It not only helps the residents, but it also helps our staff," said Vickie Runk, owner of Runk and Pratt Senior Living Communities, which host some of Witt's performances. "We are all entertained and Gary is giving back to the community."
Witt started his work 15 years ago, when his mother-in-law moved into an assisted living facility.
"I'd take her down to see the entertainment and I was kind of disappointed," Witt said. "I figured I could do a better job, so I brought my guitar over and started playing."
What started as an occasional performance has turned into a full-time gig that takes Witt to nursing homes all over the area.
"I go to Guggenheimer, Westminster Canterbury, and places like that," Witt said. "I go room-to-room and sit down with folks to sing a few songs. It gives them a little satisfaction of knowing that somebody cares about them."
The music is healing for Witt, too.
His service in Vietnam, which earned him two Purple Heart medals, has left him with post traumatic stress.
"It makes an impact on your life and it's something you don't forget about easily," said Witt.
Music allows him to forget his troubles, while helping his patients recall better times.
"It helps circulate their memory and the songs he is singing are from back in the day when they were younger," said Runk.
It's a service that makes Witt and his audience feel like a kid again.
REPORTER'S FOOTNOTE: Although Witt was referred to in our original story as a "music therapist," he is not a licensed or credentialed music therapist. Schools such as Radford University provide training and education, which allows individuals to become certified in delivery of music therapy. Click here to learn more.