A veteran of Jammin Java, Aaron Crawford has toured nationally and played with the likes of Gavin Degraw, Sugarcult, Taking Back Sunday, and Slightly Stoopid with his former band Rude Buddha. Since forming Aaron Crawford and the Badcards in July of 2011 he has continued to play major venues up and down the East Coast. With the release of their new album “The Quest,” which is a return to the punk and reggae sounds of Rude Buddha, ACBC is taking on a new challenge. They have teamed up with the northern-Virginia based non-profit The Wounded Walk for the band’s album release party on July 26th, and are using the night to honor and support our mentally and physically wounded veterans. Aaron learned about The Wounded Walk while doing a podcast interview with one of its co-founders, Adam Shatarsky. Moved by their story and mission, Aaron has used the buzz of his new album to share it others.
Adam and fellow co-founder Chris Senopole brainstormed the simple idea for The Wounded Walk nearly four years ago—a walk to generate awareness and support, one step at a time, for the thousands of physically and mentally wounded veterans in our nation. The two held on to the idea, but an explosion that cost a friend and fellow Marine his leg finally prompted them to action. In April 2013 with a now-or-never mentality, Adam and Chris began planning the formidable 2,700 mile walk from Camp Pendleton, CA to Washington D.C. On June 15th, 2013 they set out on what was intended to be a one-time journey. What followed was bigger than either of them could have imagined.
Their trip generated attention, support, and over $75,000 in aid for veterans. What they weren’t prepared for was the support that continued to flow in after the walk was over. Realizing that they had started something big, they turned The Wounded Walk into a non-profit organization and continued to spread their message. In April, they organized a walk from New York City to Washington D.C. with a focus on suicide prevention and PTSD. Their next walk is due to step-off from Palm Springs, CA on August 1st.
When asked why they continue to walk rather than employ a more common practice of simply asking for donations, co-founder Rusty Foster said it’s about keeping it simple and grassroots. “A 5K is great, but these walks are 30 days in length,” explained Rusty. “It allows people to come out and meet us, and to share their story,” and for these guys, sharing stories is as big a part of their mission as fundraising. During their month long journey, people from all over the country drive out to meet them. “People will see where we’re headed and come to drop off water, Gatorade, and protein bars to say ‘keep going, thank you for doing this.” Some even invite them to restaurants along their route to buy them a meal and to share their story. Rusty knows it can be difficult for people to talk about their experiences with spouses and family who haven’t been through them, and “it’s encouraging to see someone else out there that understands.”
Their message to the veterans they reach is this: “We are here to help, you are not alone, and if you need anything—assistance with a utility bill, money for running prosthetics, or suicide counseling—we will meet your needs as best we can, one step at a time.” In order to meet those needs, The Wounded Walk needs both donations and word-of-mouth support to reach the people who need their help.
Aaron Crawford’s father is one of the veterans who dealt with the things most of us cannot fully understand, and one of the ways he dealt with it was by walking. He suffered from PTSD from his time in Vietnam and often dealt with his anxiety by taking a walk, even in the middle of the night. Aaron’s father passed away in January due to complications from his military service—agent orange exposure which caused other issues over time. His father taught him how to play guitar when he was young, influenced the importance of music in his life, and even helped him financially with his latest album. Inspired by The Wounded Walk and searching for his own way to honor his father, Aaron has chosen to do so through music. He shares the spotlight of his album release with The Wounded Walk in order to spread their story with as many people as possible.
His mission with music is now to give back, and his message is this: "I want people to realize that music can actually be used in an unselfish manner... to benefit people and to heal them."
You can see Aaron and the Badcards at Jammin Java on Saturday, July 26th, where all proceeds will benefit The Wounded Walk. Aaron’s music and upcoming shows are available on his website at aaroncrawfordmusic.com. To learn more about The Wounded Walk and to make a donation, visit them at thewoundedwalk.org. Get tickets here!