This military veteran’s healing musical journey

Aaron Zurn (far right) is battling Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder with the musical assistance of bandmates (left to right) Jon Becker, Robert Grote and Ben Willis of the group Stailer, presenting a benefit for Operation Finally Home at Amvets Post 99 in Vandalia on Saturday, April 28. CONTRIBUTED

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Aaron Zurn (far right) is battling Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder with the musical assistance of bandmates (left to right) Jon Becker, Robert Grote and Ben Willis of the group Stailer, presenting a benefit for Operation Finally Home at Amvets Post 99 in Vandalia on Saturday, April 28. CONTRIBUTED

Because of a brain injury and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder sustained during multiple tours in the Middle East in the United States Marine Corps, Aaron Zurn was having trouble handling daily tasks. He had memory loss and multi-tasking was difficult. However, since last fall he has been on a healing musical journey with the reformed group Stailer, which he and his then-teenage friends Ben Willis, Robert Grote and Nick Kostoff started in 2004.

Zurn, a father of three, continues to progress. He’s playing his first show back in a benefit for Operation Finally Home at Amvets Post 99 in Vandalia on Saturday, April 28.

Zurn, Willis and Grote recently discussed the reunion show.

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MUSIC THERAPY

Zurn: "Playing with Ben and Robert again has really meant a lot to me. It's good for me to do things I used to do before I was in the service. It helps with my memory loss to see and do things I was once familiar with. Not to mention I get to just hang with the guys and play some old tunes that I love."

Grote: "Aaron's drive and constant desire to be better, not only on the bass guitar but in life in general. He is always working to be better at everything he does."

Zurn: Since we recorded our EP in November, we've gotten together every two weeks or so to jam. Being a part of this band helps keep my mind off things I shouldn't be thinking about. Instead of going back to my room and isolating myself and falling back into a depressive state, I can grab a guitar and get to work. My hand-eye coordination gets better and better the more I play."

STAILER COMES ALIVE

Zurn: "The idea to play a show came up after we recorded 'Finally Home.' We thought we may as well play a show together since we've come this far. Ben thought up the idea to have a benefit reunion show. We just want to have a great night and a great experience together and hopefully raise some money for a great cause."

Willis: "The thing we're all looking forward to the most is being on stage together again after 13 years. We haven't played together in such a long time, so it'll be amazing to get back up there and do it again for a good cause with our friends and families there."

Stailer’s EP “Finally Home” is available on iTunes, Spotify and other platforms. For more information on the nonprofit charity, visit www.operationfinallyhome.org.


WANT TO GO?

What: Stailer hosts a benefit for Operation Finally Home with the Leftovers and Blackwater

Where: Amvets Post 99, 1123 S. Brown School Road, Vandalia

When: 6 p.m. Saturday, April 28

More info: 937-890-6161

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