Band for vets gets underway

Chris Mumford held the first rehearsal Thursday for a new band being formed to raise money for veterans’ causes.

He hopes to attract enough musicians in coming weeks to split the group between country and rock so they can cover a wider variety of venues.

“We are going to form a nonprofit called ‘Outside the Wire’ and that might be the name of the rock band, too,” he said. “We have been thinking to call the country band ‘Barbed Wire’ because that seems appropriate, but all that is still up in the air.”

In military terms, “Outside the Wire” refers to combat troops leaving the relative safety of a base to go into the danger zone.

Mumford said the name is appropriate given that soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines struggling with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) are at risk.

Every day, 22 veterans commit suicide across the nation, most from the Vietnam War era.

Wasco County Veterans Service Officer Russell Jones said 21 percent of the service members he works with have some level of PTSD.

He said the National Center for PTSD, which is affiliated with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, reports the following numbers for different war eras:

• About 15 out of every 100 Vietnam veterans have been diagnosed with chronic PTSD and about 30 percent have experienced the disorder after going into combat.

• Twelve out of every 100 Gulf War veterans

struggle with PTSD-related issues.

• Between 11 and 20 out of 100 veterans from

Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom experience PTSD.

“What they are going through is very real and we want to help,” said Mumford, who plans to make the band(s) available to perform at area events, with proceeds going to veterans.

“We are still looking for community members who are interested in joining the jam band so come on out and play.”

The group is currently meeting at 6 p.m. on the second and fourth Thursdays of each month at the Fort Dalles Readiness Center, 402 Scenic Drive.

Mumford has already been asked to have the new band perform for a ceremony to honor veterans at a prison in the Northwest and said he is looking forward to the event.

“We can’t make judgements when we are working with veterans; they are valuable to God and we just have to meet them where they are at,” he said.

One of the first musicians to join the new band was Kathy Shebley, who plays the accordion.

“It’s sounded like fun and it’s for a good cause,” she said.

Jeff Williams decided to add his talents on the fiddle to the effort, as did guitar players Don Peterson, Bob Simpson and Paul Newkirk.

This week, Mumford recruited Paul Viemiester, the band director for The Dalles High School, Doug Woolsey, who plays saxophone, and Bob Fisher, also a guitarist.

On his to-do list in the immediate future is forming a nonprofit called Outside the Wire so donations can be channeled through his own organization.

Meanwhile, the band has been tucked under the wing of Home Fires Burning, which is affiliated with the Mid-Columbia Veterans Memorial Committee, a local charity that has given its endorsementto the effort.

Mumford can be reached for more information about the band at 541-298-2719.