Some troops recovering from injuries at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio and their families will receive the gift of music July 5, when they are presented with Gibson guitars.
"Soldiers' Angels," a group that supports troops in various ways such sending as care packages, has partnered with the famous guitar manufacturer to provide guitars for wounded musicians, said Jeff Bader, husband of the organization's founder, Patti Patton-Bader.
"We will be presenting a minimum of 20 donated guitars to wounded, guitar-playing soldiers, and one to each of the seven local Fisher Houses for anyone to play," he said.
Fisher Houses, run by the Fisher House Foundation, provide free or low-cost lodging to veterans and military families receiving treatment at military medical centers.
Both Soldiers' Angels the the Fisher House Foundation are supporters of America Supports You, a Defense Department program that connects citizens and companies with servicemembers and their families serving at home and abroad.
Bader said the group hopes to also present guitars to wounded troops at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., and at Walter Reed Army Medical Center here at some later point.
Bader, a musician, said the guitars can bring more than the joy of music.
"Being a guitar player makes this new program and the gifts to our soldiers something very special," he said. "Music truly has a healing power, and guitar-playing soldiers who have suffered from traumatic brain injury have improved their short-term memory capabilities by remembering songs they used to play."
He recalled a conversation with a military wife whose husband had suffered just such an injury, which caused severe short-term memory loss.
"The guitar I gave him helped him, because he remembered an entire song, and that gave him the confidence that he could get better," he said.
Soldiers' Angels and Fisher House volunteers, as well as representatives and instructors from Gibson, will attend the July 5 event at Brooke Army Medical Center, which will culminate in a barbecue for about 1,200 wounded servicemembers and their families at the Fisher Houses' "quad" area.
"The band Angels and Airwaves has donated [its] time to play an acoustic show for everyone," Bader said. "We will additionally have games, coloring books, prizes, clowns and balloon sculptures [and other activities] for the kids.
"Afterward, we are transporting any soldiers and their family members who would like to attend the Vans Warped Tour at the Verizon Center in San Antonio," he added. The Warped Tour, sponsored by BMX and skateboard shoe manufacturer Vans, is a music and extreme sports festival.
Servicemembers and their families arriving from the BAMC event will be admitted at no charge and will watch the show from a specially built viewing area near the stage, Bader said.
By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service