By CATHY MOUNCE
Register Staff Writer
Robert Henne, founder and director of Warrior Cry Music Project spoke to Gainesville Kiwanis members Tuesday detailing the work of the volunteer program he founded that introduces music to wounded veterans needing both physical and psychological therapy after suffering traumatic injuries during combat.
From San Antonio, Henne traveled to Gainesville to speak to the Kiwanis about the project in which volunteers work with wounded soldiers at bases and hospitals around the country.
“We provide musical instruments to those who have suffered traumatic wounds such as amputations and then we line them up with teachers to teach them how to play the instrument,” Henne said during his presentation.
He continued, “Can you imagine being nineteen years old in a hospital bed for three years trying to figure out what to do with your life?”
In 2012, Henne said there were more soldier suicides that those killed in battle. In past wars, the traumatic war injuries were either not treatable or the individual did not have a prolonged life. With today’s modern medicine, great strides have been made to heal those with even the most catastrophic injuries.
However, healing of the wounded warrior today must include not only physical rehabilitation but psychological assistance. Henne believes that music can be one key in the healing process as it reaches into the heart and soul of each individual.
“Everyone has a memory of a certain song that meant a lot to them in their life. It could be one they associate with a first love or another significant time in their life.” Henne said. “Somehow music can reach them when nothing else can.”
Henne believes that by introducing rehabilitating soldiers to music gives them something positive to work towards. They no longer see the limitations of their existence but can see beyond to the possibilities of a skill they might otherwise not have discovered.
“What we do is help them take their mind off of their injuries,” he said. “Music helps them get interested in socializing with others.”
“I have met guys with amputated limbs who thought they would never meet someone that would care for them. They retreat in their shell and try to heal. Music gives them the opportunity for others to get to know them as a person with a special skill. Music is the unspoken bond.”
Henna’s past allowed him to work with several internationally known rock and roll bands such as Def Leopard.
“Deb Leopard’s drummer is an amputee and he has done quite well,” he said.
Henne has also made contacts with several musical instrument suppliers from which he can purchase instruments at cost. He also accepts donations of instruments and equipment such as guitars, basses, electronic drums, amps, strings, picks and sticks.
Upon volunteer visits to hospitals, rehabilitating soldiers are given T-shirts with Superman, Batman, Spiderman or other super heroes printed on their shirts.
“I always tell them these are super hero shirts for super heroes,” Henne quipped.
If interested in donating instruments or funds to the Warrior Cry Music Project, please contact Robert Henne at the website www.warriorcry.org or his e-mail address at email@example.com.