By Maria YagerFebruary 20, 2018
FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. -- For some Soldiers at Fort Campbell's Warrior Transition Battalion practicing music is an enjoyable activity to help heal their wounds and soothe their minds.
A musical instruction program sponsored by the battalion's occupational therapy team partners participating wounded, ill and injured Soldiers with members of the 101st Airborne Division Band and volunteers within the community. For three hours each week, band members and community members visit the WTB and provide musical instruction to participants who want to learn, or relearn, how to play keyboard or guitar. The music lessons provide WTB Soldiers a variety of benefits across the occupational therapy spectrum.
"The basis of occupational therapy is providing therapeutic intervention for the engagement in eight areas of occupation," said Wade Binion, WTB occupational therapist who helps wounded, ill and injured Soldiers restore lost skills of daily living, like hand-eye coordination, motor skills, processing, socialization and concentration. "The areas of occupational therapy are activities of daily living, instrumental activities of daily living, rest and sleep, education, work, play, leisure, and social participation," said Binion.
The battalion's therapeutic recreation and leisure activities organized by occupational therapy are carefully crafted components in each Soldier's recovery. One goal of the Army Warrior Care and Transition program is to assist Soldiers in the WTB in discovering new talents, abilities, and capabilities that increase their sense of wellbeing and confidence after being wounded, ill or injured, said Binion.
For one Soldier at the battalion, Chief Warrant Officer 3 Jonathan Dobey, the music program began as a way for him to personally measure his recovery. Dobey played music before injuring his shoulder during deployment and once he got hurt, the music stopped. "I couldn't play music with that arm anymore because I didn't have the mobility," he said. After undergoing surgery at the WTB, he wanted to see if he could still play. "I wore a sling after surgery and couldn't play, but once I got out of the sling I began looking into the music program. I still don't have full mobility but I can play more music now than before," said Dobey. In addition to the movements associated with playing the keyboard, Dobey has also had to learn how to carry his keyboard, keyboard stand and music to and from the class as his recovery progresses, "It makes you realize your limits. It was kind of a struggle at first but I've got it now."
Besides the physical challenge, Dobey said practicing music is gratifying mentally, too, because it challenges his mind. "It gives me an opportunity to concentrate and focus on something that I enjoy. I get a sense of accomplishment."
During weekly sessions, 101st band members Sgt. Richard A. Walburn, II, a pianist/vocalist, Spc. Walter R. Reuter, Jr., a pianist, Sgt. Katherine Bolcar, a pianist/vocalist, and Sgt. Randolph Gonzalez teach music to the WTB Soldier participants. Band director Chief Warrant Officer 2 Charles Doswell said he is pleased to have the band participate in this program with the WTB. "My Soldiers are just giving music lessons is what it amounts to. The growth and the socialization that occurs through giving feedback and encouragement like, 'Hey you really nailed that,' or, 'That sounds good,' is kind of a by-product of learning how to play music in a group setting."
While inherently fun for the WTB participants, the music program is functional and goal oriented as participants achieve personal milestones in their goal to learn to play music.
Lt. Col. Arnaldo Huertas, also participates in the music program and has recently learned to play the piano after years of singing in the choir at church.
Spc. Mary Horn is relearning keys on the keyboard, skills she learned growing up. The OT program was her selection as part of adaptive reconditioning since she believes music provides calmness to her.
Capt. Tim Nelson has been around music all his life as a line of musicians is part of his family history. It was obvious he understood the theory and note selection on his acoustical guitar as Sgt. Gonazlez walked him through different ways to expand on the B cord.
"After I leave, I feel good about what I've accomplished. Learning new music is a hurdle that I overcome. I feel like I'm moving forward," Dobey said describing how he feels each week as he masters new skills in his music lessons.
The interaction between Soldiers and instructors is also important. It helps develop socialization and communication skills as well as other benefits to include, but not limited to stress management, leisure skills exploration, and self-esteem building. Binion noted, however, the WTB music program is different than certified music therapy. "Occupational therapy and certified music therapy are two distinct disciplines that have differing training and educational requirements. They are based on differing skill sets, and use different therapeutic strategies and tools in addressing the individual goals of therapy patients."
At the battalion, the music program is conducted as one of several life-skills groups that WTB Soldiers may participate on their path to recovery.
The Fort Campbell WTB supports wounded, ill and injured Soldiers during their transition to return to duty or return to civilian life as honored veterans.