Nashville songwriters at WorkPlay show in Birmingham bring attention to vets’ plight

Nashville songwriters at WorkPlay show in Birmingham bring attention to vets’ plight
Bernie Nelson, Dan Demay, J.T. Cooper and Leslie Satcher perform at Songs of Hope at WorkPlay on Thursday, May 16, 2019. (Dennis Washington / Alabama NewsCenter)

Military veterans suffering from mental, emotional and moral trauma after deployment are getting more help thanks to a new outreach effort with some of Nashville’s best songwriters.

Five country music songwriters recently sat down with five veterans, listening to them talk about their service and life struggles after returning home. Those discussions turned into five songs, which were performed publicly for the first time Thursday night at WorkPlay in Birmingham.

“We wrote with some pretty awesome vets,” said Dan Demay, one of the songwriters. “We had to listen to them and listen to our hearts at the same time. I was able to feel what they weren’t saying.”

Military veterans find support through Songs of Hope from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

Thursday’s event, “Songs of Hope,” was organized by the Crosswinds Foundation to support Centers of Hope, a new initiative to help veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress or moral injury.

“Some of the best help they can get is to just share their stories,” said Bob Waldrep, president and founder of Crosswinds Foundation. “There’s a cathartic effect in being able to share the things that happened to you, and so often veterans don’t talk about their stories until they get with other vets.”

The foundation started Warriors on Mission, a community helping promote awareness of post-traumatic stress (PTS) and moral injury. Their work includes “Invisible Scars” and “Honoring the Code,” two documentaries devoted to helping veterans share their stories and discover treatment options, and Centers for Hope, which are bi-weekly meetings where veterans receive encouragement, resources and relationship with others who’ve walked where they have walked.

“We’ve developed a curriculum they go through,” Waldrep said. “We did our test pilot in Birmingham last fall and it was tremendously effective to just listen to these vets to what happened.”

Thursday’s Songs of Hope event at WorkPlay raised money for Centers of Hope, which Waldrep says will be used to expand beyond Birmingham to Nashville, Chattanooga and Atlanta.

“We’re so grateful to sponsors like Alabama Power who got on board with us and have a real heart for vets and want to help and see that this thing gets through,” Waldrep said. “We can’t do it without corporate sponsors.”

To learn more about the Crosswinds Foundation’s Centers of Hope, visit

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