Article – Operation Ward 57 in Seattle P.I.

Article from Seattle PI
Banding together to help badly wounded U.S. soldiers
Musical groups to kick off tour in Seattle tonight

At Walter Reed Army Medical Center in the nation’s capital, the unit for soldiers suffering some of the most hard-core wounds of war is Ward 57.

Wednesday night, some of the most hard-core musicians and their fans in Seattle will launch a national effort to help the soldiers whose bodies were ripped apart by war.

The Strange Noize Tour debuts at Moore Theater, beginning a 32-date national tour for which special black-and-gold football jerseys have been designed. Proceeds from the sales of the shirts will benefit the many amputees from Ward 57.

“There is no political affiliation. This is supporting wounded soldiers once they have been blown up in our name. We just need to make sure they are taken care of,” Deborah Semer of Seattle said.

Semer’s husband, Sgt. Scott Cameron, is a nurse in the ward and spent 27 months in Iraq, surviving a roadside bomb explosion. Her company, Atmosphere Artist Management, is a partner in the fundraiser and concert, which includes Kottonmouth Kings, (HED) P.E. and the Subnoize Souljaz featuring Big B and The Dirtball, all of independent label Suburban Noize Records.

“P.E.’s latest album came out Tuesday. P.E. said they will do whatever they can to support this. Soldiers love their music,” Semer said.

The band intends to wear the jerseys at each show.

The power of such “G-punk” hard-core music is being enlisted to help the troops where politicians and visiting celebrities have not, event organizers said.

In a news release, the organizers said, “These young men (and a few women) are bored, depressed and in pain, day after day with little contact with the outside world. … Politics do not move fast enough, so a small group of people based in Seattle and the staff of Ward 57 are working together to raise funds through the sale of the Ward 57 T-shirt and football jersey.”

In a ward in which patients have covered the walls with images of professional athletes and musicians, the marriage of sports and music on their behalf was natural.

The effort began after Semer’s husband asked her to help. He had met a 20-year-old patient from Seattle in the ward who had lost one leg, nearly lost his other leg, and suffered injuries to one arm and a stomach wound, Semer said.

The wounded warrior was a big Seattle Seahawks fan. Cameron asked his wife to help him obtain some Seahawks paraphernalia for the soldier.

Semer hooked up with fellow Seattle Arts Commissioner Laura Kelly, who directs former Seahawk running back Kerry Carter’s non-profit “Think Big” Foundation.

Instead of paraphernalia, Kelly and Carter reached out with a human touch.

Carter acquired an autographed football from Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselback and enlisted a friend, former Stanford quarterback Chris Lewis, to visit the injured soldier.

“They came into Ward 57 with a huge box of Seahawks stuff,” Semer said. “Kerry and Chris hung out in that room for a couple of hours and talked football. They raised his spirits and had a lasting effect. Kerry still calls him periodically. The soldier is now out of the ward, but he was one of the longest in there.”

Anyone who wants to help donate is welcome, Semer said.

The Ward 57 T-shirts are $20 and the jerseys $45 (plus shipping), and tax-deductible. Proceeds go directly to buy items needed on Ward 57. They include wheelchairs, medical equipment, DVD players, TVs, movies, music, washing machines and other items.


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