Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot presents the music trio, Trio Galilei, with the "Helping Hands" award.
Tucked away in the corner of the Warrior Café, as wounded veterans, their families, and base personnel eat their lunch, the Trio Galilei play, just as they have every Friday for nearly five years — first at the old Walter Reed in D.C., and now at the new one in Bethesda.
It isn't for money; they give their CDs away for free. But they get a response — few, if any, music groups do. Carolyn Surrick, one of the trio members, says after their first show, she gave an impromptu violin lesson to a soldier who had lost both of his legs. He called it a "once in a lifetime experience."
"Some of the PTSD guys would say, 'this is the only thing that helps me sleep. It's the only thing that calms me down. It's the only thing I can count on every time. The drugs don't help, but this music really helps.'"
Surrick says so many people have walked by and given them a thumbs up, or to say thank you. "We should be the people that are thanking them, and I feel incredibly grateful for having the opportunity to get to be here," she says.
One of Trio Galilei's biggest fans is retired Army Lt. Col. Samantha Nerove. She served in both Iraq wars. During the second one, she was flown directly from Baghdad to the old Walter Reed when she showed signs of severe Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. For more than a year after she arrived home, Nerove could barely speak or interact with anyone.
"I would go into the dining facility, get my food to go," she says. "Take it out to my car, and sit in my car and eat it. Or I would take it back to my room if I could make it that far. But then on Fridays... I heard them play."
Eventually, Nerove did accept one of the trio's many invitations to sit with them as they played. They became friends, and that, plus Trio Galilei's music, allowed Nerove to open up again.
"Their music was about eternal hope," she explains. "And if the music can go on, then so could I. And if they were going to be there every Friday, so could I."
For their efforts, Trio Galilei received a "Helping People" award from the Maryland comptroller's office.