I, Mike Henneberger, started Zero Platoon back in 2013 with one goal in mind: to help active-duty military members who struggle with mental health issues like major depressive disorder, anxiety disorder, or even just the loneliness and hopelessness that can come from the commitment they’ve made.
See, I was one of them. For the short time I was in the Army, before being discharged with those aforementioned disorders, I very aware of the loneliness and hopelessness building, and those eventually turned into bigger monsters. Fortunately, I was smart enough and brave enough to talk with a social worker who really did play a big part in my survival.
As someone who, before enlisting, played in bands, promoted shows, toured in bands, and went to over 100 concerts a year as a music journalist, I felt that if I just had the same freedom to go to shows that I used to have, I would feel better. It’s undeniable, the sense of community that we get out of a scene, and from the friends and strangers who surround us while we all sing some of our favorite lyrics together.
There wasn’t much I could do about it while I was in, but when I got out, Zero Platoon was born––a way to take the music to those who might not always have the ability to go to it themselves. People I knew all too well, in a military community with a suicide rate that gets higher every year. I was there, too, and even after I got out, for a couple of years, there were a few times that I was very surprised to wake up.
But I knew music always saved me, and my brain would not stop telling me that we had to do something. So we did.
Zero Platoon launched with our first interview and acoustic performance from Brett Detar, the singer of The Juliana Theory. The video sucks, because I sucked as a filmmaker. That was six years ago. Since then, my skills have improved a bit after being a video producer at Vice, Rolling Stone, Billboard Magazine and Spin, and thanks to Brett lending us a little clout, we’ve also shot videos with Matt Pryor from The Get Up Kids, Dustin Kensrue from Thrice, Murder by Death, Frank Turner, Mewithoutyou, Koji, Bob Nana, Switchfoot, and several others. Which you can all see by subscribing to Zero Platoon’s YouTube.
As of yesterday, November 11, 2019, Zero Platoon is back in full force, and we’re launching with a new episode featuring Army veteran, vocalist of Assuming We Survive, and guitarist for Mest, Adrian Estrella.
We sat down with Adrian to chat about his time in the Army, and how a heavily abusive home life led him to run away and join. We talk family, friends, believing in yourself, living your dreams no matter who tells you that you can’t, and he busts out the acoustic guitar to play us the band’s song “Next to Me.”
Check out the video and share it with any of your friends who may need to here this. Like Adrian says, nobody is in this alone.