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Troops Sing a Different Tune With Warrior Cry

September 20, 2012
By Rita Boland
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Normally Homefront Help stories focus on the need-to-know information. But every so often an opportunity arises to take an in-depth look at the dedicated manner in which people across the country use diverse skill sets and interests to serve the military community. Such is the case with Warrior Cry--an all-volunteer group that provides musical instruments to wounded warfighters and helps find musicians to provide instructions when requested.

"The [injured troops] are trying to get over something very dramatic," Robert Henne, Warrior Cry's founder and president, says. "They're dealing with red tape on their care, their checks. They're trying to figure out if they'll be homeless. I don't want them having to buy ... anything related to the music. The music is supposed to be therapeutic." Ideally, the time patients spend with instruments should be fun and casual. "My goal is to make them 15 again," Henne explains. "Sitting there in the garage, jamming with their buddies, talking about girls."

Though Warrior Cry serves men and women, Henne says that 99 percent of the patients he encounters are male. The group's tagline--Chicks dig guitars and scars--grew partly out of this fact. But the tongue-in-cheek statement also represents a portion of what Warrior Cry wants to do--help troops with severe injuries feel normal, which includes feeling attractive again. An experience that particularly touched Henne involved an 18-year-old service member who had lost both his legs and wanted a guitar. He shared with Henne that his lower body is scarred and covered in skin grafts, but if he can sit around a campfire with pants on, playing a guitar, girls can get to know him and what he still has to offer, which is more than just being an amputee. He worries that because of his wounds, "No one is going to love me. I want them to love me."

Henne explains that he hears hundreds of similar stories, but this one touched him particularly because the recipient "is banking on that guitar to provide him happiness for the rest of his life not just musically, but romantically. That was really powerful to me." The majority of requests Warrior Cry receives are for guitars, because guys say that's what the girls like.

As a disabled musician himself, Henne has some personal understanding of what the people he helps are facing. He is also a military spouse, married to an Air Force physician. By combining his contacts in the music and military worlds, along with his understanding of severe physical injury, he was able to jump start his organization's mission. The "ah ha" moment for him came when he was sitting in a military clinic next to a young military member with no arms or legs. Henne thought to himself, "What am I doing with my life?" So he got on the phone with his buddies from his former roadie days and pretty soon the donations started arriving.

Warrior Cry is a small organization dedicated to turning around as much money as possible to the people it serves. Henne tries to travel only for fundraising events, saving any additional potential travel or other funds to provide direct resources. The group is always looking for anyone, especially musicians, willing to donate some time to its cause. Anyone interested in helping can reach out to Henne at Info@warriorcry.org or view the many opportunities for involvement. Henne also can help groups willing to put on fundraisers for the organization obtain autographed items to auction or visits from members of the MMA community. Photos of Warrior Cry's work are posted on its Facebook page.

Medical units interested in setting up a music room can contact Warrior Cry for instrument donations. If patients request lessons, Henne will search for local musicians in the area to come teach for free. He also encourages musicians to stop by just to spend time with the recuperating warfighters.

But injured service members from any battle are encouraged to contact Warrior Cry for support. Henne emphasizes that though the main focus is on the wounded from current conflicts, the organization wants to help everyone injured in the line of duty at any time to make beautiful music.

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