According to its website (creativets.org), non-profit organization CreatiVets' mission offers "opportunities for relief and healing for the men and women who have sacrificed so much for our country. Our purpose is to use various forms of art, including songwriting, visual arts, music, and creative writing, to help disabled veterans cope with service-related trauma (i.e., post-traumatic stress, or PTS) by fostering self-expression in a way that allows them to transform their stories of trauma and struggle into an art form that can inspire and motivate continued healing. Through compassion, we are helping veterans live again."
That reads like an opening for country music to raise its game when it comes to celebrating combat veterans by offering CreatiVets' budding songwriters and artists an invaluable platform. Enter Big Machine Label Group's June 2020 album release Veteran Songs and the new three-song Veterans Day EP. Both releases feature songs made possible by CreatiVets.
Big Machine's Scott Borchetta told Variety that future recordings building off the label's relationship with CreatiVets' songwriting program will feature the vocal talents of Nashville recording artists Aaron Lewis and Justin Moore. They'll add more star power to a partnership that's already incorporated Brantley Gilbert, Kalsey Kulyk and Love & Theft.
"It needs the celebrity aspect to cut through the noise," Borchetta told Variety. "I really feel that as soon as this gets out among veterans, it's going to be a movement. We have really good songs, and we're looking for that one that takes off and gets tens of millions of streams. That's going to happen."
CreatiVets co-founder and executive director Richard Casper based programming on his own experiences.
"My Humvee was blown up four separate times in Iraq, which led to a traumatic brain injury," Casper told Variety. "I didn't do songwriting or art or anything beforehand, but songwriting ended up saving my life."'
The songwriting program gives veterans access to talents and resources within Big Machine Records' sphere of influence.
"CreatiVets will fly veterans from anywhere in the country to Nashville to write with pro songwriters about their experiences of war," Casper told Variety. "A lot of these writing sessions take place backstage at the Grand Ole Opry, where nobody else gets to write. Because you're going to have veterans like me, who did not want to tell their story and be vulnerable. But if I say, 'Hey, here's a free trip to Nashville, writing with the No. 1 writer, backstage at the Opry,' nobody's going to turn that down."
Other creative partners of CreatiVets include the Art Institute of Chicago and Virginia Commonwealth University.
Veteran Songs Track Listing
1. "If I Change It" (featuring Bruce Wallace)
2. "Unbroken" (featuring Dan Couch)
3. "Stories" (featuring Johnny Bulford)
4. "The Other End Of The Line" (featuring Jason Sever)
5. "Fight For You" (featuring Quinn Loggins)
6. "Need Savin'" (featuring Brian Davis)
7. "Saving My Life" (featuring Bruce Wallace)
8. "Sunshine" (featuring Drew Dixon)
9. "Light Like Mine" (featuring Kenny Foster)
10. "Balance The Scales" (featuring Bruce Wallace)
11. "The Man I Wanna Be" (featuring Chris Ferrara)
Veterans Day EP Track Listing
1. "Helpless," Love & Theft
2. "Picture in a Frame," Kalsey Kulyk
3. 'One Hell of an Amen" (live), Brantley Gilbert