Rock band Cinder Road performs at Walter Reed
Posted : Monday Dec 24, 2007 6:21:11 EST
Melodic vocals and acoustic guitar chords reverberated through the halls on Ward 57 at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., on Friday, bringing holiday rock music to wounded soldiers recovering from life-threatening injuries suffered in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Up-and-coming rock band Cinder Road, who toured earlier this year with Daughtry, volunteered to lift injured soldiers’ spirits by playing a free concert on Ward 57 and Ward 58 at Walter Reed, where numerous amputee and shock-blast victims are recuperating from the perils of war.
“We want to thank soldiers for their sacrifice,” said Cinder Road vocalist Mike Ruocco, who added that the band was happy to play the show before they head overseas to play a number of shows with the Armed Forces Entertainment network. Cinder Road will tour with ‘80s style rock sensation Tesla starting in February 2008.
Cinder Road members said they were moved by the experience.
“It was an eye-opening experience for us. We have done many military tours in the past, but we have never played for soldiers who were injured at war. For us to see the effects of battle is awakening. Many of these soldiers have families, so for us to be able to bring some semblance of comfort into their day is the most we can ask for,” Ruocco said.
Put on by Operation Ward 57, a national effort to bring support and attention to amputee victims of war, the small concert for soldiers and their families brought the power of rock to battle-weary soldiers. “Live music can help them heal. There is nothing more powerful and visceral,” said Deborah Semer, the group’s founder.
“It was great acoustics. The sounds traveled all the way down the halls to all the patients,” said Army Staff Sgt. Mike Selleh, a Ward 57 patient suffering traumatic brain injury from blows to the head, neck and shoulder.
“They love this [the rock band],” Army 2nd Lt. Jillian Murphy, a combat nurse on Ward 57, said. “They enjoy the support from people. That is what we did not have during Vietnam. The soldiers identify more with rock stars,” said Murphy.
Murphy said Ward 57 sees a lot of amputees because soldiers’ body armor does a good job of protecting vital organs when improvised explosive devices detonate, but leaves the limbs vulnerable.Also, shock-blast injuries resulting from explosions are causing a large number of TBI victims at the hospital, Murphy said.
“A lot of these guys have at least mild traumatic brain injury,” said Murphy.
Selleh, who spends his time looking for fellow soldiers suffering from symptoms known to TBI, said it may take more than five years for him to fully recover.
“On bad days I can’t focus and concentrate,” said Selleh.
The music makes a big difference, he said.
“We are trying to find new direction with the changes in our lives,” said Selleh.