Bands of Brothers Deals with Returning Veterans’ PTSD Through Music
When President Obama gave his closing speech at the Democratic National Convention last week, he highlighted his putting an end to the War in Iraq and setting a withdrawal date for that in Afghanistan. What he didn’t mention, however, was the number of veterans coming home from the Middle East ending their lives stateside (although this week, the issue seems to finally be getting some attention from the government). In June, it was widely reported that the suicide rate among the nation’s active-duty personnel had eclipsed the number of troops dying in battle.
It was with that in mind Steve Holtzman and Lou Faiola decided to begin Bands of Brothers, a new online reality show showcasing returning veterans taking part in musical outfits. “It ties [PTSD therapy] into the power of music,” says Holtzman, a South Jersey-based reality TV producer. “Two of my kids actually go to the School of Rock [in Cherry Hill] and we know what a positive influence [music] can be. And certainly we know the popularity of reality TV.”
The show, which premieres Thursday night on BandsofBrothers.org, will showcase three bands of veteran-musicians playing alongside professionals as they attempt to create music. The series will culminate with a benefit concert at World Café Live on Veterans’ Day, Nov. 11.
“Every 80 minutes, there’s a vet committing suicide,” Holtzman adds. “The low estimates have vets with PTSD at 1.2 million. And there’s so much talk about supporting the troops; but there are more than a million veterans just struggling to get through a day, so we just felt that something had to be done.”
Holtzman’s organization has partnered with Give an Hour, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing free mental-health services to military personnel and others affected by PTSD; an organization, he says, many veterans do not turn to in their time of need.
“When vets get home they’re no longer surrounded by people who’ve gone through a similar experience, which is isolating in and of itself, and you have this downward spiral that can lead to alcoholism to broken marriages to homelessness and drug abuse. It’s just a horrible thing for somebody to have to deal with alone.”
In addition to the nonprofit, Bands of Brothers has gotten the attention of former U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-PA), a former combat veteran, who says he hopes the project “will bring attention to this issue in an inspiring and hopeful way.”
As for the music being produced thus far: “It’s been pretty amazing,” says Holtzman.
Bands of Brothers premiers 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 13, at BandsofBrothers.org
[Note: This post has been updated.]