I received an email from Skip Skipper, President of Freedom Sings USA, who proceeded to tell me about his company in Tennessee. He claimed that the treatment he offers for PTSD has prevented suicides and helped veterans move on with their lives. I’ve attended early RAP groups in the ’70s and participated in Group Therapy sessions with both the VA and private therapists and never heard of this program or anything similar. It’s an interesting concept that I want to share with you.
I am the President of the Board of a group called Freedom Sings USA based in Chattanooga, TN. We help Veterans heal or learn to better cope with the aftereffects of war. This is done by having the Veteran, male or female, who served in whatever war, from WWII through the latest war tell us their story to award-winning/nominated Songwriters and musicians, Don Goodman, and Steve Dean. We now have all-female classes with a female songwriter. The songs are then published on CDs. The vets then quite often become part of the group we call Alumni to give support to new Veterans coming to the program, which is entirely free to the vet.
This program has been proven to save the lives of some Veterans who had contemplated suicide before starting to attend the weekly songwriting class. They told us so. Many of the Vets say they no longer wake up screaming. It has made marked changes in the lives of many of us who attend, including myself.
You can go to our website at https://Freedomsingsusa.org and listen to the songs for free. My song is called “What I was Saved For”. A friend added a video to it which appears under the heading of Music and Videos of the webpage. Click on Videos. You can click on Music to listen to the songs on the CDs. We have the song by a MOH nominated Cobra Pilot named Larry Taylor that will be out on our Vol. 5 CD. His song is “No Man Left Behind”. You can listen to it on our Webpage now.
There are so many groups that are helping veterans now that could have saved lives if they had been around when we got back.
What happens during the weekly sessions?
During the weekly sessions when we are meeting in person, we usually have anywhere from From 20 to 30 people attending. Most are alumni( people who have written a song with our songwriter. This number includes visitors learning about the class who might wish to tell their story, people that know of veterans who might benefit from the program, the songwriter and musician, and Board members. We feel that the comradery shared by the group helps new people feel as if they are part of our “family”. We feel that this approach is much more beneficial in the long run than the program that uses the one-song-and-done model. It is amazing how some of these veterans come out of themselves.
How do the meetings take place?
We sit around a long table in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and have extra chairs for overflow. Don Goodman, lead Songwriter and Musician Steve Dean write and put music to the song as the story is being told. It takes 2 or 3 meetings to tweak the songs and they are never finished until the Veteran is satisfied with it. Don co-wrote “Ole Red” for Blake Shelton and with Becky Hobbs wrote “Angels Among Us” for Alabama. Steve Dean Co-wrote “Watching You” by Rodney Adkins. These are top-notch songwriters and musicians. Currently, because of Covid, we are meeting via Zoom.
Wed, 07/01/2020 – 9:24am
By CASEY COLLIER
in 1 word: OUTSTANDING! Gave me all I need, to further ’embed’ among ‘That Number’. Music Advancing among us, so trumps all the ‘noises Not off’, still creeping up in our solitary wake. Suzuki violin had its ‘mother-tongue approach to learning’; You here have a Bro-s tongue support system to ptsd copings. Mike Randall’s rescue mission has to learn about you! Me, to learn More.
This was a very good post, I liked it a lot and to put something into words w/music the way someone else can understand and feel it and get some truth out there is great. Keep going, keep posting.
John, thank you for your article about Freedom Sings USA. You did a great job in the way you presented what we do. The song you mention by Lt. Bruce Wesson “We Took The Pictures” is in my opinion one of our best.
I have enjoyed reading the articles you write about the Vietnam War. Skip Skipper
Skip, thank you much for the article contribution. It’s getting a lot of positive comments on my FB group pages. Don’t forget to visit the comment page periodically in case there are questions or comments directed to you. Have a great holiday! / John
On Fri, Nov 27, 2020 at 8:52 PM CherriesWriter – Vietnam War website wrote:
Thank you, Wanda. Much appreciated!
This is WONDERFUL. It songs similar to a program called http://www.songwritingwithsoldiers.org, based out of Nashville. Started by Mary Gautier and Darden Smith, it’s now got many other songwriters involved. They travel all across the country. Everything has gone virtual now, due to COVID. They have written with Vietnam veterans (and even had a WWII veteran at one of the in-person classes), Iraq, Afghanistan, Desert Storm, etc. I went to one of the shows they did in my area. The professional songwriters did songs they wrote with veterans, and some of the veterans performed as well. It was very moving. I tried to get my Vietnam veteran husband to go (he wrote several songs himself while he was in country), but he wouldn’t go. When I came home and told him about it, he said, “I guess I should have gone.” Mary Gauthier has produced a CD with songs written by women veterans from Afghanistan and Iraq. Darden Smith has a CD in the works, I think. Powerful, powerful songs.
Thanks, John, for sharing this group I didn’t know about. I will pass the word along to Mary and Darden, both of whom I know through my folk music show.
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Freedom Sings USA has an ongoing program for the veterans who go through the program and write their songs. They become the boots on the ground to help other veterans. FSUSA teaches them the skills they may need to help other veterans through this powerful program of songwriting and vet to vet therapy. It is different from just songwriting with veterans, but all help for veterans and their families are certainly appreciated. We will partner to help give the “after the song is written” care they sometimes need. Thank you!
A great article for those serving now and from previous wars. The help is there for us. I have attended a VA clinic of vets thru the Boise Va. The class has been suspended due to COVID. We have 16 vets in our class. Vietnam/Iraq/Afghanistan.
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