The curative power of music for veterans of war

A panel discussion after the screening of the movie with director Susan Rockefeller, second from left. Photo courtesy of Rotary Club of Wall Street New York

By Jesus Fernandez Munoz, Rotary Club of Wall Street New York, New York, USA

My club became aware of the special needs and care that U.S. soldiers require when they return home through our work with the Bob Woodruff Foundation. The latter was co-founded by award-winning television reporter Bob Woodruff and his family after he sustained serious injuries while covering the Iraq war in 2006.

To support this foundation’s work, we partnered with Susan Rockefeller to show her film “Striking A Chord” at the Tribeca Cinemas on16 May, 2012. In the true spirit of Rotary, Rotarians from all over the New York metropolitan area, and four other counties, packed the theater, to raise money for our veterans suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

We even had some three dozen guests come after the movie to enjoy an open bar reception catered by Murray’s Cheese and contribute more donations supporting the Woodruff Foundation. The evening was full of Rotary fellowship, generosity of spirit and poignant moments.

We listened with attention during a question-and-answer session with Susan and her fellow panelists, as we began to learn how tragically serious the problem is for a quarter of a million veterans. Later, during the reception, we were entertained by the band, who played in the movie, and congratulated the many raffle winners of uniquely special prizes.

Striking a Chord brings the audience right into the army bases in Iraq. The film shows the boredom and isolation, the effect of repeated deployments, and the need to create experiences that bring the troops some consolation. Long lines of soldiers waiting to speak with Nell Bryden and the band after every concert attest to the effect of the music on the troops. Their fervent applause and heartfelt comments show how deeply they respond to the concerts. The film reminds us that when our soldiers return home, they need special care and attention. Many are ashamed to speak about the disorder, yet it’s all too common. As the film shows, music can provide a way to begin the healing process.

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