“Music can name the unnameable and communicate the unknowable.”

          Leonard Bernstein

Operation Song’s Mission is to empower veterans, active duty military, and their families to tell their stories through the process of songwriting.

Our Vision is to become the premier songwriting organization serving the active duty military and veteran community, to expand our programs stateside and overseas, and to train others in our model.

Our History

Operation Song was founded in 2012. Nashville songwriter Bob Regan had the inspiration for the program in the 2000’s while performing on Armed Forces Entertainment Tours at military bases around the world with country music artist Thom Shepherd. On those tours, Bob met many servicemen and women with very compelling stories and thought that pairing them with songwriters, natural story tellers, might create some very compelling music. He was also made aware of the large number of service related injuries, issues, and illnesses related to the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, and that some service members were having challenging transitions back to “normal” life. The idea was that transforming their story into a song might help them process seemingly random and chaotic events and emotions of their service and give them some order, perspective, and validation.

The program started with weekly sessions at the VA Medical Center in Murfreesboro, TN under the supervision of a music therapist. Groups of as many as 8 veterans would tell stories about their military service and professional songwriters would transform them into song. The format gradually evolved from writing group songs to focusing on the individual veterans or service members and their experiences.

Operation Song soon began sponsoring weekend retreats around the Southeast in Ft. Benning, GA, Chattanooga, TN, Little Rock, AR, Pensacola, FL, and as far away as New York City, NY. To date, Operation Song has written over 1000 songs with veterans of WWII to those currently serving.

There has never been, nor will there ever be, a charge to any veteran or family member for our services. It is our honor to serve those who have served.

WHO WE ARE

Our Board of Directors includes veterans of Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan, professional songwriters, and others dedicated to serving the military.

Bob Regan
Bob ReganFounder
A Grammy and Dove Award-nominated songwriter with over 200 songs recorded by artists from Keith Urban to Roy Rogers, has garnered 11 ASCAP Most Performed awards. He holds a BA in Psychology from the University of California at Davis.

Mike Byer | Executive Director

Mike Byer is a retired Army First Sergeant, OIF/OEF Veteran, guitarist, and amateur songwriter. Mike served in the Army for over 21 years with the Combat Aviation Brigade of the 101st Airborne Division. His tours of duty include Operations Desert Storm Southern Watch, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and Operation Enduring Freedom.

Mike served in numerous roles in the Army, from squad leader, to First Sergeant, as well as a Drill Sergeant, and Senior Small Group Leader at the John W. Kreckel NCO Academy. Mike was selected as the 101st Airborne Division Soldier of the Quarter, and was inducted into the prestigious SSG Audie Murphy Club. Mike was also awarded the Order of St. Michael for his contributions to Army Aviation. For his Combat Service, Mike was awarded with two Bronze Star Medals.

Upon Retirement from the Army, Mike started SOAR (Sounds of Acoustic Recovery) a nonprofit program that aims to help Veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder and service related disabilities through music, specifically by teaching them how to play the guitar.

BOARD MEMBERS

Bob Leonard

        President of the Board

Bob is a U.S. Navy Desert Storm Veteran and a 20-year healthcare executive, clinician, and entrepreneur . Bob served as Military Police in the U.S. Navy from 1987 to 1992. Bob’s skill set includes management, startups, strategy, marketing, and business development having worked for GE Medical Systems and several national and regional healthcare organizations during his career.

Dennis Buchanan

Dennis served in the United States Army and is a recipient of the Purple Heart Medal which he earned while serving in combat in Vietnam. Dennis continued serving his country with a twenty-plus year career in law enforcement with the Mt. Juliet, Tennessee police department. He also currently serves as a Board Member for the Journey Home Project.

Kevin Doherty

Kevin practices law in the area of insurance regulation and captive insurance. He serves as President of the Tennessee Captive Insurance Association, Inc. Kevin also practices music law and entertainment law and represents recording artists, songwriters, and record and music publishing companies in connection with music business agreements.

Ed Hardy

Ed was active duty for 2 years and then served 18 years in the U.S. Army Reserves, attaining the rank of Major. Most recently, Ed served as the interim CEO of the Country Music Association (CMA). Ed retired from Scripps Networks Interactive in 2012 as President of Great American Country (GAC) TV Network and a member of the Scripps Networks Executive Committee. In addition to being on the Operation Song Board of Directors, Ed is a current board member of the CMA Foundation Board and current Advisory Council member of W.O. Smith Music School, past Chairman and current member of the Nashville Convention and Visitors Corp. board and Chairman of their foundation board, Music City, Inc. He was a founding board member and Vice President of The Journey Home Project board.

Gina Jackson

Gina is an Air Force Veteran who has spent her entire career in the Public Relations field. Between her time in the Air Force and the State Department, she has worked in more than 15 countries. Gina currently serves as a Senior Spokesperson for the Department of Veterans Affairs in Washington D.C.

Danielle Lauber

Danielle received her doctorate in Human Performance from Middle Tennessee State University. Danielle is a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist with over 13 years of experience working in healthcare and mental health settings, 8 of which were spent at the Department of Veterans Affairs. Her master’s thesis looked at identifying the qualitative experience of Operation Song and her doctoral dissertation expanded on these results.

Cindy Morgan

Cindy is a contemporary Christian music singer and songwriter. Cindy’s 1992 debut album, Real Life, earned her six Dove Award nominations. Her follow-up, A Reason to Live, garnered her another Dove Award nomination. Overall, Cindy has earned 12 Dove Awards.

Debbie Radish-Respress

Debbie is an executive coach and business consultant with 30 years’ experience in the manufacturing and supply chain management industries. Her expertise includes global human resources strategy, M&A, talent acquisition, retention, and succession planning, policy and procedure compliance, organizational development, employee relations, and benefit plan design.

Jason Rose

Jason has over 25 years of experience in healthcare technology. He is a healthcare IT entrepreneur, focused on launching products that drive digital health innovation and value-based care outcomes. Jason is currently CEO of AdhereHealth, a nationwide healthcare technology company headquartered in greater Nashville, TN.

Storme Warren

Storme Warren is an American television and radio broadcaster best known as the host of the Storme Warren Morning Show on Sirius XM’s channel, The Highway. Storme currently serves as brand ambassador for Wherever TV.

Mike Sistad

Originally from Minnesota, Mike Sistad has worked on both the creative and business sides of the music industry.  As a musician, he has performed across most of North America, including stops at the Houston Rodeo and Calgary Stampede, as well as radio and TV performances including Garrison Keillor’s “A Prairie Home Companion” and the Grand Ole Opry.  A Belmont University graduate, Mike has worked with legendary Muscle Shoals producer/musician Barry Beckett; as an A&R executive for Tim DuBois and Mike Dungan with Arista Records Nashville; and as a band member for 2-time ASCAP Country Songwriter/Artist of the Year Phil Vassar.  In 2001, Connie Bradley enlisted Mike to join the ASCAP Membership team.  In his current role as VP-Nashville Membership, Mike continues to work with all aspects of the music industry as it pertains to songwriters, artists & publishing companies.  Successes include Chris Stapleton, Kelsea Ballerini, Old Dominion, Brothers Osborne, Carly Pearce and many others.  Sistad has previously served as both a Board Governor and Chapter Advisor for the Nashville Chapter of the Recording Academy in addition to being an AIMP Nashville board member, CMA, ACM member and Leadership Music alumni.

Jeff Mefford

After growing up in Bowling Green, KY, Jeff graduated from the Accounting program at WKU in 1982 and moved to Nashville.  He earned his CPA certificate while working in the audit division of the international accounting firm Arthur Andersen & Co., and then spent 6 years as the General Accounting Manager with Alcoa Fujikura Ltd., headquartered in Brentwood.  He next served as the Controller, then CFO for the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce organization and assisted with the launching of numerous projects there, including the Nashville Downtown Partnership, the Nashville Sports Council, the Nashville Healthcare Council and the Music City Bowl.  Upon the separation of the Chamber and the Convention & Visitors Bureau in 2003, Jeff continued on in the CFO role for the Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp.  Jeff is married with two grown daughters and two grandsons.

Joe Forte

Joe Forte is a technology Director with VMware as well as a songwriter. Joe has been consulting for the US DOD and State / Local Governments for over 25 years. During his career, he worked closely with the US military including several assignments in the Middle East and Afghanistan. Joe has also been a musician and songwriter for 30 years. USO touring experiences and his work with the DOD has provided a unique insight.