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U.S. Army Field Band Soldier-Musicians Provide Musical Therapy at Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital

By Heather Santos
TUSAFB

News story photo
Photo credit: John Altman
TUSAFB Soldier-musicians interact with patients at the Barbara Bush Children's Hospital in Portland, Maine, Sunday, March 22, 2009.
Fort George G. Meade, Md.—On a chilly Sunday afternoon in March in Portland, Maine, there was nothing but warmth within the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital (BBCH). Children snuggled securely with stuffed animals and blankets; employees huddled together as they tightly clutched their coffee cups; and family members held the hands of loved ones—all visibly attempting to get a firm grip on anxiety.

Then The United States Army Field Band (TUSAFB) arrived, and, to the delight of patients, family members and staff alike, the Soldiers’ Chorus sent melodious notes throughout the hospital. With bright walls, skylights and wonderful outdoor views as the backdrop, the Chorus belted out folksongs and musical theater selections that left the audience mesmerized.

“Our daughter was supposed to go home today, but we wanted her to be able to hear the singing. She just loves music,” expressed one parent to Master Sgt. William Elliott, a percussionist with the Concert Band. Another parent expressed, “We just enjoyed this so much. It helps bring hope to us.”

TUSAFB Soldier-musicians also had the opportunity to meet and interact with the children and their families. Along with wondrous harmonies, the Concert Band and Soldier’s Chorus came equipped with the ability to make dog tags for the kids. When asked to describe the experience, Master Sgt. Thomas Enokian, a percussionist with the Concert Band, said, “The parents took a back seat and let their children really take part in the process.”

The performance was relaxing and provided a good counterpoint for those undergoing medical treatments or awaiting test results, and the ability to interact with TUSAFB Soldiers added a cheerful touch to the often antiseptic, stressful world associated with hospital environments. The event provided a wonderful escape for the kids.

Rosemary Herd, a pediatrics nurse (and herself a former military spouse) stated, “This helps us all reconnect; it meant so much for you [The Field Band] to be here today.”

“You [The Field Band] were like a ray of sunshine for us,” raved Sue Walker, Child Life Coordinator for the BBCH.

The 26,000 square-foot, 48-bed inpatient unit of the BBCH provides infants, young children and teenagers benefits from the latest in healthcare. The staff and administration believe that each child is a star, and they hold a special place in the world as well as in our hearts.

The Soldier-musicians of TUSAFB emphatically agreed, and these NCO’s personify a true commitment to our Army and our Nation. Their dedication illustrates why the Secretary of the Army dedicated 2009 as The Year of the NCO.



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