Army Sergeant uses music to combat PTSD

By Bonnie Campo, News21

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The Warrior Resilience Center at Fort Bliss, Texas, continues to explore multiple treatment options for post-traumatic stress disorder, while official and traditional treatment offer two options.

Doctors and clinicians at Fort Bliss treat active duty troops who primarily served in Iraq and Afghanistan. Treatment at the center is offered from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. in a program that lasts four weeks. Each day is tailored to the patient’s needs, said Vicki Thomas, who is chief of the Warrior Resilience Center.

Sgt. John Welsh finished the program June 21 and said that every day spent at the clinic encouraged him.

“I am about 65 percent recovered,” Welsh said. “But I have more hope now than I did when I began the program.”

Welsh benefited from his treatment, but because of his mental trauma will remain at Fort Bliss. Asked if he would be deployed, he said, “That’s not an option right now. I’m unfit for duty.”

That doesn’t mean Welsh will stop trying. He believes in the progress he has made, but he also advocates helping those who struggle with the same horrors and memories of war.

“A lot of soldiers ignore their problems until it becomes to much to bear; I was one of them,” Welsh said. “I am willing to do anything to help combat related trauma.”

And he has. Welsh produced a song for a friend in 2011, just two weeks before Welsh left for Iraq. That friend was Sgt. Brett Cornelius, who sustained a traumatic brain injury. One of the only things Cornelius can remember is his wife, so Welsh  took a poem Cornelius wrote for her and put it to music.

Welsh returned from Iraq nine months later with PTSD. Cornelius’s memory is approximately 15 minuets because of his TBI. But when they hear the song, Welsh said, they get to remember life before war, before the explosions, and before they were no longer fit to serve.

Through this act of kindness they both are heading toward success, just like the name of the song “On My Way.”

The song can be purchased on iTunes and proceeds from the song go directly to Sgt. Brett Cornelius and his family, minus legal and copyright expenses.