About The Film

Striking a Chord: Instruments of Healing shows how veterans with PTSD are finding their way back to themselves through music and art. The spine of the 30-minute documentary is singer-songwriter Nell Bryden’s concert tour of U.S. military bases in Iraq. Her performances carve out a sliver of rare emotional space for soldiers whose daily routines require suppression of feelings. We see how the music transforms – in body language, facial expressions, and the intimacy of the stories shared by individual soldiers in post-concert private exchanges with the band.

Director Susan Rockefeller also intertwines footage from the battlefield with footage of veterans fighting a very different battle – a battle to rediscover normal. Through art, dance, theater, and music, vets gradually find their voice and their health. Their journeys offer civilians insight into the trauma of war and the challenges that returning soldiers face when they re-enter “reality.” Soldiers learn that, for those who find the courage to speak their truths, there are unexpected paths to healing.

We Are Family Foundation

Striking a Chord was produced in partnership with the We Are Family Foundation (WAFF), a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the vision of a global family by creating and supporting programs that inspire and educate the next generation about respect, understanding, and cultural diversity—while striving to solve some of our biggest global problems at the same time. This film will add to their vision by expanding our public understanding of the larger community of our troops in Iraq and the role of music as a force for peace. Find out more at wearefamilyfoundation.org.

Nell Bryden

Nell Bryden is a singer/songwriter with six CDs under her belt. Born and raised in New York City, and currently living in London, Bryden has blended blues, country, modern-Dixie and jazz into a songwriting style uniquely her own. Constantly crossing the oceans, she’s played nearly 500 gigs in just over two years, including opening slots with KT Tunstall and the Counting Crows. Nell’s especially popular in the British Isles. As an independent release, her debut single tracked Top 40 in the Official Irish Charts. Find out more at nellbryden.com.


Featuring the music of Nell Bryden


“Second Time Around”

“Where the Pavement Ends”

“It’s Not Like Loving You”

“Only Life I Know”

“What Does It Take to Get to You”

“Helen’s Requiem”


all songs written by Nell Bryden

courtesy of Nell Bryden Music

performed by Nell Bryden and her band

VOCALS & GUITAR: Nell Bryden


BASS GUITAR: Mark Stewart

DRUMS: Bryan Bisordi

original guitar score

composed and performed by Eric Lindberg


“We Are Family”

Performed by Nell Bryden & her band

Written by Nile Rodgers & Bernard Edwards

© 1979 Cotillion Records, Courtesy of Nile Rodgers

“We Are Family” (slow remix)

arranged and performed by Nell Bryden & Eric Lindberg

written by Nile Rodgers & Bernard Edwards

© 1979 Cotillion Records, Courtesy of Nile Rodgers

“Ring of Fire”

performed by Nell Bryden, Eric Lindberg,

and the Talil Air Force Fire Department

written by June Carter & Merle Kilgore

© 1963 Painted Desert Music Corp.


Performed by Danny Roberts

Written by Gavin Rossdale

© 1994 Kirtland Records

“Here I Stand”

composed and performed by Cheldyn Donovan

piano score

composed and performed by Kevin McLeod

concert audio engineer

James Deering

post-production supervisor

Sean Frechette

audio mix

Bill Markle

research supervisor

Beth Poague


Karen Shatzkin

music library

Opuzz Music



Associated Press


Google Maps


U.S. Department of Defense


Americans for the Arts/National initiative for Arts & Health in the Military

American Dance Therapy Association

American Legion Auxiliary

The ArtReach Foundation

Capital News Service Television

CBS “60 minutes”

Combat Arts San Diego

The Commonwealth Club

The Daily Planet

Omega Institute for Holistic Studies

Will Dickey, The Times-Union


Half of Us Foundation

Lynn Johnson, National Geographic

Johnson County Community Foundation

Dario Magnolo

Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP

Devin Mitchell, Veteran Vision Project

MTV Networks on Campus, Inc.

Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) and Psymposia

National Veterans Creative Arts Festival

Andrew Nunn



Polsky Family Supporting Foundation

Psychedelic Frontier

Susan and Richard Selke

Tappert & Associates, The Arts & The Military

Twin Cities Daily Planet

Under the Hood Café Outreach Center

US Air Force

US Dept. of Veterans Affairs Office of Patient Centered Care and Cultural Transformation

Veteran Artist Program

VetCAT – Veterans’ Creative Arts Therapy

VHA Office of Patient Centered Care and Cultural Transformation

Voice of America

The White House






Clips from “Inspirations of Hope & Recovery” courtesy of

Veterans at the Tampa VA Psychosocial Rehabilitation & Recovery Center, Tampa, FL


Nancy Hunt

Nile Rodgers

Nell Bryden

Ana Abramcyk

Gwen Alston

Angela Alston

Roberto Berrios

Maj. Gen. David Blackledge

Maj. Iwona Blackledge

Sgt. Gustavo Blanco

Ron Borczan

Larry Brilliant, M.D.

Rachel Brink

Dr. Judith Broder

John Bradbury

Chicken and Egg Pictures

Edun Clothing

Brian Dallow

Cheldyn Donovan

Larry Gallmier

Sgt. Garrett

Julie Gilhart

Hugo B. Gonzalez

Judith Helfand

Clay Hunt

Staff Sgt. Meg Krause

Laura Krejci

Capt. Todd Kruder

Elizabeth Mackey

Tony Macie

Christopher T. Martin

Shon McDougal

Ret. Admiral Mike Mullen

President Barack Obama

Lt. Col. Scott Rainey

Danny Roberts

Dr. Richard Rockefeller

Sgt. Ronald Rosser, Ret.

Capt. Emily Stehr

Corey Stephens

Kim Silas

Tara Tappert, Ph.D.

Sean Walko

Elizabeth Washburn

Jonathan Wei

Marete Wester

Allison Winters


Camp Ali Al Salem

Camp Adder

Camp Al Asad

And Camp Rimadi

who participated in the making of this film

Susan Rockefeller

Director and Co-Producer

Susan Rockefeller is the Founder and CEO of Protect What is Precious a company that uses the power of documentary filmmaking, photography storytelling and design to inspire awareness and mobilize action across a wide range of environmental, social and philanthropic groups. Susan’s films have explored a range of contemporary issues, often using both real life heroes and those of myths to confront issues such as ocean acidification and the future of ocean health, PTSD and the use of music to heal, the confluence of race, poverty and illness, global food sustainability. Her films, including titles such as Food For Thought, Food For Life, Striking a Chord, Making the Crooked Straight, Running Madness, Take Time, and Mission of Mermaids have aired on HBO, PBS, and the Discovery Channel.

For more information: www.protectwhatisprecious.com