A group of Wilson Countians fronted by legendary fiddler and Country Music Hall of Famer Charlie Daniels are leading the way in the battle against veterans suicide.
Daniels, a long-time veterans advocate, spoke recently about one of the reasons why he started The Journey Home Project.
“These guys come back home and there are 22 of them a day are committing suicide. That just ain't right,” Daniels said just moments after finishing a scorching rendition of “The Devil Went Down To Georgia” at his annual fan club party.
“And they go to the VA and they give them a handful of pills and some cough syrup and send them home. We are better than that.”
Daniels started the Journey Home Project with longtime friend and business partner David Corlew, also a Wilson Countian, and retired adjutant major general Max Haston. He said the JHP is small but they’re happy to bring more awareness to the problem of veterans re-entering society.
“We are just a thimble in the ocean. It’s a big problem, but they deserve better than what we are giving them. We just do what we can to help,” Daniels said. “Because the government will find a way to squeeze out of something if it costs them any money. They did it in Vietnam with Agent Orange … said, ‘oh we don’t know for sure what’s causing this,’ when they damn well knew better.
“We account for every penny spent. It goes to the veterans who need it. We just try to get on the street level and offer individual attention where it’s needed.”
One of the organizations that the JHP helps fund is Operation Song, a program that pairs veterans with writers to help them tell their stories through songs. Wilson Countian and former Mt Juliet Parks Director Dennis Buchanan went through the program.
“It saved my life,” Buchanan said. “Charlie and David, this program, there’s no doubt it did.”
Buchanan said that he never thought he could talk about Vietnam until he got involved with Operation Song. “The thing about PTSD is that always stays with you. They helped me put things on the table that I always thought would stay inside of me.
“It gave me another tool in my toolbox to help fight this.”
Buchanan is now spending his retirement as a liaison between Operation Song and The Journey Home Project advocating and helping other veterans.
“We are bringing them home one song at a time,” he said.