Warrior Transition Battalion finds healing through music
By Victoria G. Molinar, Special to the Fort Bliss Bugle
Leaders of the non-profit Warrior Cry Music Project drove from San Antonio Thursday to provide the Fort Bliss Warrior Transition Battalion with instruments for their music therapy program.
At Hope Chapel, WCMP members visited the WTB Soldiers during their weekly music session to talk about their program and perform several songs. The members who performed – Christian Lee on guitar and William Bower (a former Ironside) on the conga – come from the three-member band One for the Fallen. The third member is the WCMP founder and director Robert Henne, who plays bass for the group.
“I’ve been lucky to meet Robert,” Lee said before the band played its first song. “He’s opened up a whole new world for me and it’s healing through music. (Warrior Cry Music Project) is a really amazing program.”
The band donates a portion of their album sales to WCMP, which provides wounded Soldiers across the U.S. with instruments and volunteer instructors. Fort Bliss is the 15th installation to receive a donation from the organization. Songs from the band are inspired by the ups and downs of military life.
After performing a few songs, Lee handed the acoustic guitar he played to Sgt. Evelyn Gomez, one of the WTB Soldiers in the music therapy program.
“I’ve always loved music,” Gomez said. “It just transcends you to a whole different place and keeps your mind off the pain for a while. I’m excited to learn how to read music and how to play different sounds.”
Other items the group donated to WTB included several more guitars, a keyboard, a keyboard stand and guitar bags. The collaboration between WTB and WCMP began when Marc Cattapan, WTB adaptive sports coordinator, learned about the non-profit through a colleague who holds the same position as Cattapan at Fort Riley, Kansas. Sophia Wadley, Hope Chapel worship leader, helped Cattapan get permission to use the chapel as a music space and also assisted him with rounding up volunteer music instructors.
Henne said he was grateful Cattapan reached out to his organization and felt it was important to drive to Fort Bliss to talk to the WTB Soldiers.
“The least we can do is help you heal after you get injured from taking care of us,” Henne said.
Henne formed the volunteer-based organization about six years ago. Several years prior, he faced a brain and back injury from a seven-car pileup. The husband of an Air Force member, he was taken care of at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center at the time of the accident.
“And as a drummer, guitar player, bass player and keyboardist, I had to relearn all four instruments again, but it was very therapeutic and it’s really what saved me,” Henne said. “But it never hit me until that moment sitting in the pain clinic that I was the only one in the waiting room with two arms and two legs and I thought, ‘Why don’t I start a music program for them?’”
Henne said over the years, many Soldiers have told him and his colleagues that music therapy has helped steer them away from suicidal tendencies.
“Students who I’ve met like the ones I met today will call me a couple of years later and say, ‘Hey, I just found your card and just wanted to say thank you. Your program changed my life,’” Henne said.
To learn more about WCMP, visit WarriorCry.org.
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