Any mention of Army Bands generally conjures up images of a parade and freshly pressed military uniforms. Recently, for a group of Soldiers on Fort Stewart, the Army Band brings confidence and hope through a special form of recreational therapy.
In February, U.S. Army Medical Command’s Army Recovery Care Program asked the 3rd Infantry Division Band for volunteers to assist with an eight-week long Adaptive Reconditioning Program where Soldiers who are assigned to the Soldier Recovery Unit learn guitar as part of their recreational therapy. After coordinating with Ariel Malphrus, a recreational therapist with MEDCOM, Spc. Jonathan Rodriquez and Spc. Alejandro Bertorelli from the Band quickly sprang into action.
“Many of us have used music as a form of therapy in the past as an intervention for various disciplines,” said Malphrus. “They’re working on fine motor skills without realizing it. Some are learning new skills, which is great for cognitive stimulation, so just coming out and practicing music notes, repetition— all of that works fantastic for them. Most of them have wanted to pick up guitar for a while and this gives them that opportunity.”
Spc. Rodriguez, guitar player with the Band, fully endorses the program.
“Being able to introduce Soldiers to this wonderful instrument so that they can also share memorable moments with friends and Family in the future is something that makes me happy,” he said. “I used to teach before joining the Army so being able to find a platform to teach guitar lessons in uniform to other men and women in uniform is an honor.”
“I was really in a rough spot a few months ago,” said Staff Sgt. John Rivera, a Soldier assigned to the SRU. “I began learning on my own online, but I was still in isolation stuck in my room and still feeling down. Then we found out that the Band volunteered to help with this program and it’s been amazing. It’s been great learning to play guitar, but not only that, it gets you around other Soldiers in a similar situation.”
For Cpl. William Cody Liscomb, a Soldier with the SRU, the program has rekindled his love for music and has greatly helped his current mental state of mind.
“It’s helped with my behavioral health issues, my depression, PTSD, stuff like that,” he said. “It’s a brand new hobby for me. My ultimate goal is to just jam out with my Dad and have a good time.”
Chief Warrant Officer 3 Mike Krzmarzick, Band commander, says they will continue to ask their Soldiers to volunteer with the program.
“Several of our Soldiers were education professionals prior to serving in the military,” he said. “Providing lessons is an excellent way to keep up their teaching skills.”
The program is open to all Soldiers in the SRU but is limited by the number of participants due to the availability of musical instruments. Malphrus also stated that any instrument can be used in recreational therapy. She stated that they are actively seeking additional instruments for the program and welcome donations.
“As of right now we have one piano and 5 guitars. We have no other musical instruments.”
Those who are interested in donating instruments to the program can email amalphrus@ lia-na.com.