Sergeant Merlin German USMC Burn Camp Music Program
Performing around the campfire in front of 30 campers can be an unforgettable experience for any child. Learning to play an instrument can help repair an altered self-image by boosting self-confidence and promoting interaction with peers. Despite these positive effects, many burn survivors have never had the opportunity or resources to own a guitar or a drum set.
After witnessing the transformative power of music, we initiated the Burn Camp Music Program, and partnered with several Burn Camps across the USA in order to provide percussion instruments. We have also introduced the Strumstick, an easy to learn 3 stringed guitar, along with a series of educational videos.
This project was named after Sergeant Merlin German, a 20-year-old Marine who sustained third degree burns over 97% of his body in a road side bombing in Iraq. He survived over a 160 surgeries and was an inspiration to his fellow service members and the healers who treated him for a year and a half before he succombed to his burns. He loved children and music and wanted to heal others even as he suffered so grieviously.
“The ability to play an instrument helps burn survivors break through the wall of the isolation and depression that many of them face every day.” – Samuel Davis, BAN Founder
US Burn Veterans Rally
In November 2008, over 1,000 participants and spectators came to Liberty State Park Flag Plaza to show their support for the hundreds of burn survivors injured in Iraq and Afghanistan, and other veterans who have not received the benefits and care that they deserve.
After pedaling around the Statue of Liberty, the veterans returned to land and heard Congressman Albio Sires, Dr. Hani Mansour and BAN Founder Samuel Davis address the serious issues facing the country’s veterans. By raising awareness about the plight of these veterans, we hope to increase funding that is desperately needed for programs offering support and rehabilitation.
By harnessing the power of volunteerism, we have been reaching out to veteran burn survivors to serve as positive mentors for children at burn camps. The universal lesson that transforms burn victims into survivors is simply that there is life after burns – a lesson that only those who have lived through the experience can convincingly express.
“As a burn survivor, I look forward to volunteering at burn camp. After being burned in Iraq, my recovery has been difficult and at times frightening. I look forward to working with kids and helping them overcome the obstacles that I faced. I am the best messenger to convince kids that there is life after burns.” – Staff Sergeant Chris Edwards
Future Burn Camps Under Consideration
In the next 10 years, our goal is to bring the psychosocial benefits of burn camp and the cosmetic and functional improvement of laser therapy to the children in many other countries. These include: