Soldiers Use the Power of Music to Triumph Over Trauma

Earlier this week, SPIN Magazine released an article titled "Fight Songs" about an amazing organization, Songwriting With: Soldiers, which gives military men and women suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) the opportunity to create music out of their painful experiences.

The organization, founded by Austin singer-songwriter Darden Smith, is based on the idea that songwriting can be used to help soldiers tell their unique stories, ease their transition back to civilian life and help them cope with the aftermath of combat duty. The 3-day retreat takes 10 soldiers and their families along with acclaimed songwriters, Radney Foster and Jay Clementi, to a remote location for a weekend filled with emotional one-on-one songwriting and singing sessions. A former Army combat engineer called the songwriting sessions “a revival of the soul.”

A recent study estimates that anywhere from 5 percent to 35 percent of soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan are suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. So far, the results from this kind of musical therapy has been very positive for the soldiers and their families."With a guitar in hand and open minds and ears, we put words and music to some of what they’d been through". One soldier, before leaving the songwriting retreat said, “This restored my faith in humanity… people do care.”

Another unique thing about this organization is that all songs created during the weekend are recorded and the soldier is considered a co-writer and is registered with the ASCAP. That way, should any money be generated from the sale of the songs, the soldier would benefit from the royalties.

Songwriting With: Soldiers is only one of dozens of small grassroots, nonprofit efforts going on around the country which uses the power of music to help soldiers and veterans deal with the physical and psychological effects of war. Arthur Bloom, a classically trained musician who once worked at Def Jam, runs a nonprofit organization called Musicorps, an intensive music rehabilitation program that helps soldiers recover. "Working in any musical style they prefer, wounded warriors are able to learn, play, write, record, and produce original material." At a recent charity concert in New York called Stand Up for Heroes, a group of soldier-musicians from Musicorps backed Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters during a set of songs to raise money for the Bob Woodruff Foundation. Another similar organization is Resounding Joy, which focuses on getting the soldiers to a point where they can go out and perform their songs live.