By Richard Sisk, Military.com
The Department of Veterans Affairs is expanding a partnership with a Nashville nonprofit that links veterans with professional songwriters and musicians at retreats the VA describes as “helping veterans share and cope with military experiences through music.”
Bob Regan, a Grammy-nominated songwriter and founder of “Operation Song,” is up-front about the group’s goals: “We’re not therapists. We’re not here to judge you. We’re not here to fix you.”
What Operation Song can do is take veterans’ words and thoughts, “move ’em around and make ’em rhyme,” and set them to music, said the 70-year-old Regan, who has written songs recorded by Trisha Yearwood, Reba McEntire, Billy Ray Cyrus, Lee Greenwood, Hank Williams Jr. and others.
Regan said the idea for Operation Song came to him on overseas tours for Armed Forces Entertainment. “Songwriting is an art form they can relate to,” he said.
“Just sit them down, have a conversation, tell me about yourself” and the process begins, he added. The organization’s motto is “Bringing them back one song at a time.”
Regan began with weekly sessions at the VA Medical Center in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, and the program developed to the pilot retreat conducted last year. “We reached out to the VA and said, ‘Let’s give it a try,'” he said.
When the program is successful, the resulting song is recorded by professional musicians who donate their time in studio settings, and the veterans take those songs with them, Regan said.
Since the program started, more than 750 songs have been written. One of them, “Last Monday in May,” is about Memorial Day through the years.
It was a collective effort written by six Iraq, Afghanistan and Vietnam veterans; it has been performed on the National Mall for the past five Memorial Days and also at the Grand Ole Opry, according to Regan….
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