Everyone’s heard the old joke about what you get when you play a country song backwards: You get your truck back, you get your dog back, and you get your wife back.
Some Nashville musicians hoped their efforts would be more uplifting than reversing a sad song when they recently teamed up with veterans in Columbus, Georgia to write country songs — often about painful experiences these vets have been carrying with them since their service.
The participants included Bob Regan, who has written such songs as “Busy Man” by Billy Ray Cyrus and “Thinkin’ About You” by Trisha Yearwood, and Tim Maggart, a singer-songwriter and Army veteran himself. These two, in addition to  other musicians, first spent time getting to know the vets, then collaborated on a song about their life before performing the songs around a campfire at the Warrior Outreach retreat.
Don Goodman, who wrote several songs for Lee Greenwood including “Ring on Her Finger, Time on Her Hands,” and “Angels Among Us” by Alabama, told Dante Renzulli of WTVM that the vets’ songs all tell different personal stories. “Sometimes it’s a story about their car, their truck, their girlfriend, their mom, their dad. They get things out that they want to say to them, but they can’t. But when we get in there, playing the guitar, and get caught up in the music, they let go of demons that they’ve been carrying around for years. I just worked with a man who fought in Vietnam who let go of a demon he’d been carrying fifty years. He finally told another human being what was killing him. And from that day on, his life has changed, and that was more important to me than any number one song I’ve ever written.”
Now that sounds like a song worth singing.
MORE: Writing Helps Veterans Go From Victims to Victors