Austin-based singer-songwriter Darden Smith had never had a real conversation with a U.S. military service member until he met Lt. Col. Fred Cale. He quickly realized that they had much in common – both were music lovers. Through this meeting, Smith, the founder of SongwritingWith:Soldiers, realized that the divide between soldier and civilian was not what he thought it was. He saw the potential for music and songwriting to help soldiers transition back into civilian life.
“SongwritingWith:Soldiers to me is an incredibly beautiful kind of evolution, you might say, of what I’ve always wanted to do, which is tell stories and write songs,” Smith said.
The free program pairs professional songwriters with veterans to craft original songs based on their experiences. For many of the 120 military members who have participated, songwriting begins the healing process.
“I guarantee you they’ve saved lives with this program,” said Major Chuck Hawthorne, a retired Marine.
Equal parts cathartic release and creative endeavor, SongwritingWith:Soldiers offers a chance at healing to the people who need it most.