Def Leppard Drummer Rick Allen Helping Military Vets With PTSD
29 years ago, Def Leppard drummer Rick Allen lost his arm in a car wreck. But the musician has since rebounded from that setback, and he's hoping his experience will help wounded soldiers deal with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) stemming from their battlefield experiences and injuries.
In a new ABC News report, Allen states, "I didn't know what my life would be like after that terrible day. It was the darkest time in my life. And, even today, I still consider myself a work in progress." The drummer began to see how his own experience could help others when he visited the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in 2006.
Allen says, "I was moved by their courage, their suffering and by the very challenging journey many of them had ahead. I spent time talking to as many warriors as I could -- listening, learning and sharing my own experience of losing my arm and having to rebuild my life."
In the years since, Allen has invited Wounded Warrior Project participants to Def Leppard's shows. Once there, the soldiers are invited to take part in "Warrior Gatherings" and encouraged to speak about their experiences. "It's a wonderful way to draw people in," says Allen. "And the warriors realize they're not alone." The drummer has also taken part in Project Odyssey, an outdoor rehabilitative retreat.
In addition, Allen founded the Raven Drum Foundation, which provides drum circles to Wounded Warriors to encourage their healing from PTSD. Each of these activities are designed to begin the path to healing, which is the ultimate goal.
"One of the main issues is that the warriors won't ask for help," says Allen. "And we are really here to highlight the fact that you're not a coward if you ask for help." He adds, "My desire is to encourage a support system for warriors, de-stigmatize PTSD, share their stories and offers alternative ways to pave the road to resiliency and health. PTSD does not control us; we have the power to control it."
Allen and Marine vet John Roberts discuss their traumatic experiences and how they've bonded in the ABC News piece below.
Watch Def Leppard's Rick Allen Discuss the Wounded Warrior Project