ARLINGTON, Va. — Amid the challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, the Joint Base Lewis McChord Soldier Recovery Unit, Washington, created a new socially distanced music experience for recovering Soldiers. The Army Recovery Care Program takes a closer look at this event, known as Rock the Quad, in the sixth article in the Adapting to COVID-19 Series.
Rock the Quad was developed by the SRU’s adaptive reconditioning program, which helps recovering Soldiers achieve their goals, even during the COVID-19 pandemic. The program is part of ARCP, which supports wounded, ill and injured Soldiers as they transition back to the force or to veteran status.
Adaptive Reconditioning Support Specialist David Iuli used to DJ a karaoke event on Fridays for the Soldiers. The COVID-19 pandemic canceled karaoke, but a new music experience was developed to replace it.
Lead Physical Therapist Louis McGranaghan asked Iuli to play music in the Quad at the SRU barracks for Soldiers who were following stay-at-home orders. Iuli put his DJ skills to the test during the first Rock the Quad on April 3.
“I was expecting it to go well, but I didn’t expect the Soldiers to receive it as well as they did,” Iuli said.
Soldiers could listen from the Quad while practicing social distancing or from inside their rooms. Many chose the latter, but Spc. Andrew Stienquist came out and enjoyed some music and sunshine.
“It’s such a good idea and it’s cool to actually come out, listen to music and chill,” Stienquist said. “We all enjoy it and it beats being cooped up in our rooms watching movies and Tiger King.”
The inaugural Rock the Quad event featured R&B, hip-hop, rock ’n’ roll, some Top 40 hits and music from the ‘70s. Some Soldiers requested songs, while others sang karaoke or danced to the family-friendly tracks.
The second Rock the Quad music experience followed on April 17. An expanded event called Rock the Quad Crayfish Boil was held a few weeks later.
“The food was delicious and the music set the atmosphere to build camaraderie with everyone that attended,” Chief Warrant Officer 3 Byron Ellison said. “It was [a] good thing these guys put together.”
Rock the Quad is only the beginning. Iuli is developing a DJ class to teach Soldiers the basics, such as loading music, beatmatching and transitioning. The class will provide an opportunity for Soldiers to engage in an activity while social distancing.
Iuli believes Rock the Quad helps Soldiers relax for a few hours and be themselves.
“I myself am a music lover,” he said. “I find it’s a way to kind of self-soothe, and it’s healing.”
Adaptive reconditioning programs provide activities and sports that help wounded, ill and injured Soldiers to optimize their wellbeing, achieve their goals and return to active lifestyles. Through these virtual programs, Soldiers can continue classes and programs and try new ones. During the COVID-19 pandemic, an average of 350 AR activities are offered at 14 SRUs across the country every week.