Written by Suzanne Lynch  |  May 22, 2017

The mission of Nashville-based nonprofit, Operation Song is to empower veterans and active duty military to tell their stories through the process of songwriting. The organization began four and a half years ago because of Bob Regan.

Bob is a Grammy and Dove Award-nominated songwriter with over 200 songs recorded by artists from Keith Urban to Roy Rogers, and he has garnered 11 ASCAP Most Performed awards. Although when you talk to him, you would never know it. Regan is that kind of special person who prefers to shine the light on someone else instead of himself.

With Operation Song he does that every day. Bringing in other renowned songwriters such as Regie Hamm, Don Goodman, and Wil Nance, Bob gives opportunities to veterans from all wars, active duty service members and their families to write and record a song about their experiences. To date, Operation Song has written over 450 songs.

For roughly ten weeks, a couple of songwriters will work with the three to five veterans who have signed up for the program through the Nashville or Murfreesboro VA Medical Centers, the USO at Ft Campbell, the Nashville Vet Center and other veteran counseling centers. They often start by writing a group song to help everyone get to know each other and feel comfortable about sharing their experiences. Then they each get to work on their own song.

“We get the participants talking and they always get around to what they want to write about—family, kids or their war story,” said Bob.

On Monday, May 15, the most recent group gathered at a closing celebration at the Nashville VA Medical Center. The group consisted of Bob, Regie, Wil and three veterans—two Vietnam veterans and a medic who served in Iraq.

The veterans got to hear their songs, finalized and recorded, for the first time. There were few dry eyes in the room as voices joined in with the recordings, singing the lyrics from the screen.

After his song “Piece of My Soul” ended, Vietnam veteran Chuck softly said, “I worked as a sniper. It’s not the same thing as killing in battle. It’s a cold and sober thing to do. After that, there was nothing left inside. I appreciate these guys doing all the modifications they did to the song. It turned out good.”

Dale, also a veteran of Vietnam, wrote a song called “Beautiful Lies.” His wife said, “Operation Song got more out of Dale than I have in 30 years.” The song talks about how Dale reassured a wounded young soldier that everything would be all right, as he helped him onto a chopper. Since that day, Dale has hope he would see him again somewhere, somehow.

Ralph, who served as a medic in Iraq, dedicated his song to a fellow medic who saved countless lives before losing his own. His song called “I’m Here” is a tribute to his friend’s willingness to risk his life to stay beside a wounded soldier.

Bob became inspired to start Operation Song after performing in several entertainment tours overseas and meeting military men and women who were bearing the brunt of war.

“It really struck me,” he said. “Songwriters are armchair therapists and I thought maybe this could be a good way to help veterans tell and process their story.”

Turns out, Bob is right.

“Killing someone is not a natural act, which is why we need programs like this,” said Chuck.


Source: Tennessee Arts Commission News