Helping Soldiers Heal

The final keynote at the annual conference of the Global Alliance for Arts and Health was Darden Smith. Smith is a talented singer/songwriter who has taken his talent and transformed it beyond the often ego driven life of a rock star. He has taken his gifts and talents and is sharing them in a way that impacts the men and women who protect our freedoms and safety in the United States.

After many years of singing and performing in venues across the country, Darden has found a higher calling; one that provides healing to men and women in the military. His current focus is not only inspiring, but serves as a reminder of the trauma many of our soldiers experience after being in combat. We’ve been living in turbulent times and now with Smith’s help, the road to healing through music is a new avenue, and an amazing one.

The program is called Songwriting With:Soldiers ( The program brings soldiers on a retreat and during that retreat they co-write and record songs specific to their lives. They can discuss/write/sing about any aspect of their experience. The soldiers are teamed up with songwriters and then each song is professionally recorded. The soldier is given a CD of their song before leaving the retreat. Does this help heal?

Smith told us about a soldier who had been on the retreat and recorded a song. The song was on an iPod making it readily available. After the retreat the soldier experienced another place of darkness and despair leading him to consider committing suicide. He was set to take his own life when he passed his daughters room and heard her listening to his song. The song that was his creation, his experience, and a step on his own healing journey prevented him from committing suicide. When we hear a story this profound and impactful does it inspire you to include music/singing/songwriting in your own personal healing journey? Or those you work with?

One of the points Smith made along with performing some incredible songs was this, “What conversations have you been having with yourself your entire life?” He followed that with, “Have those conversations every day!” What are your conversations telling you? Are they the key to health and healing?

I encourage you to go to Darden Smith’s website and hear some of the music that is jaw dropping magnificent, I hope you gain some inspiration from his courage, perseverance, and desire to accompany others struggling to experience a sense of freedom from their own dark places.


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