Rock4Recovery.net Paul Delacerda
He's been back in Houston since 2010, but with a brain injury suffered after his unit was rocked by a blast in Iraq. His story gets shared with America this weekend when a cable channel airs his story dealing with PTSD and his band of wounded veterans.
With his studio over on Garrow Street, just a stone's throw from his childhood home, Delacerda uses music to quiet his demons and get back the life he wants to live.
He grew up on the East Side and said he didn't have the best childhood growing up. "Lots of ups and downs," he said. That's part of what made him enlist. But music was in his soul. His father was a mariachi when he was younger. His uncle played the drums in a tejano band, and his paternal grandfather made it big on the tejano music scene.
"PTSD is more of a disability. For me personally, my traumatic brain injury comes from exposure to an explosion I was involved in. It was in an IED attack," Delacerda said.
Now he can't work and uses his time to help other veterans, and sometimes it's not a pleasant thing. "I recently had a veteran call me at 4 a.m. You ever heard a grown man cry? Spill his whole guts out to you," he said.
Delacerda is part of the ten-year-old Wounded Warrior Project. He joined in 2006 after a 15-year army career, and is now an alumnus and advocate. It's a major part of why he's been able to cope. "I live this life," he said.
And even though Delacerda's seen some pretty nasty business during his military career, he said he wouldn't change a thing. He said his commitment to the Army and fighting in the Middle East is the reason I'm able to write this article right now. Freedom, dig?
"I'm very proud of all my accomplishments," he said. "Despite some of the things I did in my military career I'm not proud of. We go to war to keep our guys from dying. We go to kill the enemy before they kill us. That's the reality of war; that's what we do," he said.
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According to the Houston Office of Veterans Affairs, there are more than 30,000 who have returned to the area since 9/11.
The documentary series Wounded: The Battle Back Home airs this weekend on MSNBC with Delacerda's episode "Taking the Hill" on Sunday, March 23, at noon.
"Warriors need our help. It's hard to ask for it sometimes. And it's programs like them that we're able to do things right," Delacerda said.
You can check out his band's website, WarriorSpiritband.com, or his music therapy program and studio, Rock4Recovery.net. He said it's open to all veterans and their family members, and anyone who wants to volunteer to teach, or donate instruments.