Move over Jersey Shore. Pipe down Housewives from Hell. There’s a new reality show in town.
Bands of Brothers, a new non-profit, is casting Iraq and Afghanistan veterans from the Philly area to be in three rock bands that will perform at a Veteran’s Day concert.
Their motto? 12 vets, 3 bands, 1 cause.
The journey, from rehearsals at the Cherry Hill, N.J., School of Rock to the main stage at World Café Live, will be the basis of an online reality show meant to raise awareness about post traumatic stress disorder and money for the treatment of veterans suffering from PTSD.
Like any good reality show, the participants will have to overcome obstacles that stand between them and their big debut.
Expect surprise challenges and possible drama as the band-mates get to know one another. And, of course, celebrity musicians to advise the rock stars-in-training
The winning band gets the prize and bragging rights. But the real goal, creators of the show say, is to raise awareness and provide support to organizations helping veterans with PTSD.
The creators of the show are Louis Faiola, who runs the School of Rock, and Steve Holtzman, a reality show producer. He’s currently working on The Style Network’s Glam Fairy.
“I like to say that I like to use my reality television powers for good instead of evil,” joked Holtzman.
So over lunch one day last January, the two got to talking about ways to do something good in the community. Faiola mentioned bringing more awareness to returning vets dealing with PTSD. Holtzman jumped on the idea. Both of their fathers served in the military, so the subject hit home.
“People talk about supporting the troops,” Holtzman added, “but supporting the troops can’t just be when there’s bullets flying. Supporting the troops means when they come home too. And when you see how many people are suffering and dying, we just felt it was something that needed to be done.”
Faiola said he’s seen shy, withdrawn kids walk into the School of Rock transformed by the music. That’s what he’s hoping to see with the vets dealing with PTSD.
It is estimated that one in five returning vets suffer from the disorder. But many experts say that the number of veterans who deal with PTSD at some point after returning from war is actually higher.
“Raising awareness and educating helps all of those folks in the community better understand so that we can all step up and do our part to help,” said Dr. Barbara Van Dahlen, a licensed clinical psychologist who founded Give An Hour. Give An Hour, a partner in the project, provides free counseling and other mental health services to veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan.
Van Dahlen said the group has been approached several times about collaborating on projects about veterans dealing with PTSD, but declined until now.
“It is really important to tell the positive stories, the good stories, the hopeful stories, the stories of people who are working hard to live their lives,” she said. “From the beginning, it was clear that that’s what Steve and Lou were trying to do. We love the idea.”
The 10 shows will be shown online between September and November on www.bandsofbrothers.org. Putting the shows on the web, the creators said, was a deliberate decision.
“We wanted to control the message,” said Holtzman. “We wanted to know that what we were going to put out there had to do with inspiration and had to do with telling good stories. We didn’t want to be tied to ratings. We don’t need to get a 15 share to have a hit, we need to reach one person who will call “Give an Hour” or go to the web site and get help.”
“If we can save a life than it’s all worth it.”
If you want a shot at making one of the bands, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Good luck and rock on.