ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – For combat veterans, certain sounds can be haunting.
“I work on base, and there were some exercises going on that were very familiar sounding. It kind of made for a bad day for me,” said veteran Rob Mitchell, founder of Full Battle Rattle. “I just wanted to sit in this puddle of self-loathing, really.”
Mitchell, who had just started teaching himself guitar in December, realized another sound helped pull him out of it.
“The only thing I could think of doing was grabbing my guitar and playing around on it,”
Within minutes, Mitchell realized the disabling symptoms of PTSD subsided.
I realized what playing my guitar had done and I realized I needed to spread this message,” he said.
That’s when the idea for Full Battle Rattle was born.
At the beginning of the year, he made some calls to see if people would be interested in helping vets learn guitar, for free.
The idea took off quickly.
They now have eight volunteer instructors and 16 students.
The group relies on donations, from guitars, to lessons, to time at rehearsal spaces.
Student Thomas Rascon, who served two tours in Iraq and two in Afghanistan, found a new love for music through the lessons.
“I can focus on the sound of music, the love of music more than myself, you know, trying to dissect myself, I do that a lot,” he said.
The vets in Full Battle Rattle come from different backgrounds and different wars, but understand each other in a way no one else can.
“That’s all part of the fraternity of supporting each other and helping us get through times that we never really realized we’d struggle with,” Mitchell said.