Songwriting with Soldiers – What We Can Do in the Wake of Ft Hood

While we try to make it through yet another one of these deadly suicidal rampages that have become terrifyingly commonplace in the US, I’d like to call special attention to a charitable group doing a colossal service to this nation by working with veteran soldiers to help them come to terms with what they’ve endured in war. Darden Smith and his volunteer crew at SongwritingWith:Soldiers share their time and musical expertise teaching soldiers how to communicate their emotions and turn the most vile of things into something positive–and sometimes even beautiful. It’s the reason many of us became songwriters to begin with; it’s therapy. It’s a place to find answers, or at very least, comfort. Darden and his crew are not only helping American war veterans work through their post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms, they’re teaching soldiers how to be their own best therapists.

As with each one of these tragedies, the political debates will inevitably ensue–but I will not take part in that. I believe it’s the wrong tool to fix the problem. Our problem is much deeper than any political system could possibly take on. Reducing the frequency and breadth of events like the one that just happened in Ft. Hood, Texas first requires our society as whole to acknowledge the importance of mental health, our sore lack of resources for understanding and maintaining it, and–the even bigger white elephant in the room–the huge number of PTSD-afflicted soldiers returning from war.

It is with that notion that I implore each and every one of you to get to know the work of SongwritingWith:Soldiers and, if you believe in it, donate. It seems fated that less than a month ago, Darden Smith won the Esme Barerra Award for Music Activism–an award given in honor of a bright light in Austin’s beloved music community who was killed two years ago by a young veteran of the war in Iraq also purported to have been afflicted by PTSD (and later committed suicide.)

So let us all take heed from the great example set by Darden, his crew, and the soldiers in his camp; let’s invest in the healing and mental health of our citizens.

“Music is the best thing you can give.” – Darden Smith