Strange Noize tour raising awareness and money for Walter Reed’s Ward 57
ARLINGTON, Va. — Wounded troops recuperating at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington are getting a boost from some new “hardcore” friends: rock, hip-hop and rap musicians including (HED) P.E., the Kottonmouth Kings, and Tech N9ne.
The musicians, who are playing together on the U.S.-based “Strange Noize” tour through the end of August, are selling posters and shirts bearing the logo of Ward 57, where many severely wounded soldiers from Iraq and Afghanistan spend weeks and even months recovering.
The T-shirts were printed by staff last year to boost morale for patients and families, according to Deborah Semer, whose husband, Army Sgt. Scott Cameron, is a nurse on the ward.
After seeing how popular the T-shirts were — ward staff even gave one to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice — Semer decided to try selling them “to raise awareness about the growing number of soldiers losing limbs, and let them know they are supported,” she said.
The profits, meanwhile, could be used to buy items for the ward, such as DVDs, laptop computers, or whatever might help make patients’ hospital time more pleasant, said Semer, who is a Seattle, Wash.-based music industry executive.
Semer named her effort “Operation Ward 57,” and joined forces with former Seahawks and Redskins running back Kerry Carter, who adopted the project as part of his nonprofit Think Big Foundation.
She then began tapping her contacts in the music industry, looking for artists to promote Operation Ward 57 during their concerts.
The members of (HED) P.E. “jumped right in,” Semer said.
“It’s a great blessing and an honor for (HED) P.E. to know we’re helping out the soldiers,” lead singer Jared Gomes said during a telephone interview from Norfolk, Va., where the band was playing Monday.
Although he has never served in the military, Gomes, said, “I’m very conscious of the sacrifice of those who are in uniform.”
During concerts, Gomes said, he always tries to make a point “to remind people that while we’re out partying, we’ve got people putting themselves on the line for us.”
The response from the audience, he said, “is overwhelming love and huge cheers” for the troops.
The artists on the Strange Noize tour have been selling the T-shirts and football jerseys since July 18, with 100 percent of the profits donated to Operation Ward 57, Gomes said.
In addition to the $20 T-shirt and $45 jersey, the musicians also are selling a limited edition tour poster featuring all the tour’s artists for $25, Gomes said.
The Ward 57 merchandise, and more information about the project, is also available on Carter’s Think Big Foundation Web site at www.thinkbigfoundation.org/ward57.html.
Walter Reed officials are aware that merchandise with the Walter Reed/Ward 57 logo is being offered for sale as a fundraising tool, hospital spokesman Don Vandrey said on Tuesday.