About 50-60% of military service members will develop PTSD after being deployed. After a car accident that left him injured and seeing the same doctors as many wounded veterans, Robert Henne of San Antonio was inspired and founded Warrior Cry Music Project six years ago as a way to help veterans upon their return home.
Warrior Cry Music Project provides free musical instruments and lessons to military hospitals and injured service members around the country. Warrior Cry volunteers work with the service members at their bedside and in group sessions throughout the hospital. They also work with healthcare providers to help ensure that learning music is beneficial for the wounded.
Robert tells us more about Warrior Cry Music Project:
What compelled you to develop this nonprofit?
I was in a seven car pileup 13 years ago and received a neck, back and head injury. My wife is active duty so I see the same doctors the wounded soldiers see. I was in the pain clinic one day at Walter Reed in DC and noticed I was the only patient waiting with all their limbs. I knew I needed to be more involved. Music was amazing for my recovery and I wanted to help the wounded with it the same way it helped me.
How does learning to play music help with PTSD?
Learning to play music is very calming in a sense that your mind is busy and not concentrating on stuck points that aggravate the PTSD symptoms. It also helps bring back memories of pre-military life by learning songs from your youth and helps to replace bad memories with good. Writing music is just another way of putting your thoughts on paper and is a standard therapy treatment for mental issues. Learning to play also helps with physical injuries. The repetitive motions of learning to play a guitar for instance, can help replace a squeeze ball for hand strengthening. Learning the basics of snare drumming patterns help with upper extremity coordination. A drum kit can help with over all coordination and multiple injury rehab all over the body. Learning to play is also great for cognitive therapy. Music is a lot more fun that many exercises done over and over again and they have a new basic skill to build on.
Who are the music teachers?
The instructors are volunteers that teach in music stores, private lessons and such. Most just want to help the wounded and share our vision. They work under the supervision of the different therapists that allow us to work within their departments.
Anything else you’d like us to know?
I always like to ask people to remember how music can change your mood based on what you are listening to at the time, especially from their teen years. When you learn those songs that bring back some great memories, it’s like learning another language, and you become a part of it. Positive experiences help reprogram thought patterns and the more repetitive it is, the better it works. Music is great at that.
How to help:
The 1st Annual Warrior Cry Music Project Benefit Concert is on Sunday, September 27th at Love and War in Texas in Grapevine. The line-up of great musicians will donate their time to bring awareness to PTSD in combat soldiers along with bringing much needed support for WCMP. Buy your tickets today!
By Elaine Krackau