Saturday, January 18, 2014

"Falling Through the Cracks" - Jeremy Janssen

On December 11th, 2013, Marine Veteran Jeremy Janssen went to Nashville with the CreatiVets program and wrote with Matt Mason and Lance Carpenter. Together they wrote "Falling Through the Cracks" from the stories Jeremy had shared with them.

(Interview with Jeremy)

What drew you to joining the military.

“I knew, from a young age, that I wanted to join the military, having always felt a sense of pride in my country and a sense of duty to serve. Honestly I joined the Corps, in particular, because I thought their uniforms were pretty cool.”

What was your experience while over seas?

“Being overseas really sucked. The food was terrible, the women were terrible, and pretty much everyone was trying to kill us….including the women. Really it was 99% boredom, and 1% sheer terror. We would spend days not seeing anything, and then find 8 or 9 IED’s in one day.”

How were you injured?

“I was hit by a suicide bomber on 12/22/04 and broke my back in 3 places, got 3rd degree burns, had my arm torn apart, had shrapnel wounds to both legs, broke 4 ribs and had a collapsed lung.”

What were some of the hardships you faced once you were back stateside adjusting back to "normal" life?

“I was pretty much treated like shit by everyone. I was flown into O’hare airport, which is 4 hours away from home, with no wallet, no phone, and no idea what to do. Everyone else had these big welcome home deals….I wasn’t given a uniform to go home in (they gave me a Tampa Bay sweat shirt and black sweat pants that were used), was wheeled into the airport and told “good luck” I am still really bitter about the fact that literally everyone had this huge welcome home party while I was made to cook burgers at my units welcome home party later in the year.”

What were some of your expectations when going to Nashville? Do you feel that they were met?

“I really didn’t know what to expect when I was going down there. I am not artistic, and really don’t like country music. Richie met me down there and immediately put me at ease. I hung out with some really cool people and made a song that I am extremely proud of. It even changed my taste in music a little bit, as I listen to country every now and again.”

What was your experience while in Nashville with the writers? Explain a little of the process.

“I was introduced on the first day while in the recording studio, and when we went to lunch. They were a little rushed, but introduced themselves and were just great people. When we were writing the listened to everything I had to say and turned my story into a badass song!”

Did you ever think you would have the opportunity to have a song wrote on your experiences overseas for others to hear?

“I honestly never in my wildest dreams thought I would ever go to Nashville, meet some amazing artists, and make an awesome song. It was a GREAT experience.”

How do you think this experience has changed your life.

“I have definitely been a lot happier since the writing session. It showed me a different way to express myself and got a lot of pain off my chest. It was good to see that I was not alone in this as well, Richie had a lot in common with what I have gone through and is truly a good person.”

Monday, January 6, 2014

"Grab My Pack" - Stevan Thompson

In December, 2013, Marine veteran Stevan Thompson took a trip to Nashville, TN, through the CreatiVets program.  While there, he met with songwriters Dave Pittenger and Bob Regan to create a piece through which he could share his story.
Stevan served in Iraq from February 12th to September 15th of 2004, and again from July 4th to December 9th of 2005.  Stevan was injured during his second deployment, and had to be transported back to the states.
Interview with Stevan:
1. What did you expect to gain from your trip to Nashville? Did your experience meet your expectations?

“What I expected from the trip was to be able to help others going through a tough time. To express the deep connection that we share as veterans. To show that they are not alone and their brothers and sisters are there to help them. The trip met and exceeded my expectations and hope others have the same reaction as I did.”

2. How was your interaction with the writers (Dave Pittenger and Bob Regan)? How did you work with them to develop your story into a song?

“My interaction with the writers was amazing. They took what I was trying to express and with the help of Richard (CreatiVets, Executive Director), they were able to put it in terms that could be expressed to anyone.”

 We also had the opportunity to talk with Stevan’s wife, who says she is thankful her husband was able to take the Nashville trip.  Mrs. Thompson says, “It was a positive experience for my husband. He came back from Nashville with a happy attitude and would not stop talking about his trip for almost a week. His song is going to be awesome.”  She also says Stevan feels very strongly about helping others before himself, which is expressed through the lyrics of his song “Grab My Pack”.  For those of you who don’t know, the title of Stevan’s song refers to the way in which Marines help one another during a struggle.

 Stevan says he supports the CreatiVets program and hopes to see it become a major role in helping veterans relieve stress.  As mentioned before, Stevan often thinks of others before himself.  What would make him most happy would be to see other veterans benefit from the program in the same way he has.

See Stevan’s song below (Sung by Dave Pittenger)