It’s been some time since the tragedy of veteran’s suicide has been on the front pages of the news, but that tragedy continues. Something important to remember on this Veterans Day: Every day an average of 15 veterans end their own lives.
I have been surprised that no major singer-songwriter has written a song that deals with the epidemic of veterans’ suicide. I even devoted time trying to find a celebrity singer-song writer to write such a song but no one I know has taken up the challenge.
Our organization is dedicated to bringing the healing power of music to veterans, and for several years I made weekly visits to the San Francisco County Jail. At these visits we had singing and poetry workshops with incarcerated veterans. One of those vets named Robert began seriously working on writing poetry and would share them with the group. Robert was even a semi-finalist in Heroes’ Voices National Poetry Contest. On several occasions Robert challenged me to write my own song and share it with the group. I had never written a song before. I fumbled around with it for a while, but never rose to the challenge.
After Robert was released, he continued to stay in touch and continued to share his poetry. Heroes’ Voices gave him a guitar and he began taking our weekly guitar classes for veterans. Pretty soon Robert began writing songs and has shared how important his poetry and music are to his journey of sobriety.
Recently, I decided to take up Robert’s challenge and have begun writing songs. In honor of Veterans Day, and in humble gratitude to Robert and all those veterans who have touched my life these past few years, I have written a song.