Twenty-six military veterans. Eighteen women veterans and two Gold Star family members supplying heart-wrenching testimony. Seventeen talented songwriters. Sixty-four professional musicians and singers. Thirteen engineers working in recording studios in five states. Forty-nine women and 46 men in supporting roles. In total, “Warrior Songs Vol. 2: Women At War” was produced by 95 deeply caring people.
Warrior Songs is a non-profit organization based in Madison, Wisconsin. Their mission is to facilitate healing amongst United States military personnel, veterans and those working with veterans by using songwriting and the arts as vehicles. The fifteen song compilation CD, “Women At War” is the second release from their “Story to Song” program, which is designed to transform buried experiences and feelings into a song that heals and entertains while it also educates, motivates and inspires.
“Women At War” will drop on November 10, 2018 and will be available at iTunes, Amazon, CD Baby and all major online retailers, as well as at the Warrior Songs website. Warrior Songs CD’s are made available free of charge to veterans across the country. With the release of “Women At War” the emphasis will be placed on getting them into the hands of women veterans.
Women have been serving our country in uniform since its founding, both in combat and non-combat roles. But women now make up over 15% of our current military, leaving family behind to go overseas and serve their country. Women veterans endure all the usual combat trauma of their male counterparts: physical injury, PTSD, TBI. Often they also carry the additional trauma of rape and Military Sexual Trauma (MST). Once home they are expected to quietly leave that trauma behind and pick up the pieces of a life that is now instead forever changed by the experience.
Warrior Songs collects stories for its Story To Song program in a variety of ways: at songwriting workshops, testimony submitted to their website, and through personal encounters on Warrior Songs outreach trips across the country. The veterans are paired with songwriters to develop a song of self-expression and healing. Once approved by the veteran, the song is taken to a recording studio and performed by established musicians to become the latest Warrior Songs CD release. First-hand testimony has been gathered from women vets since 2011.
The process itself can be difficult for both veterans and their songwriter. Linda McClenahan postponed becoming a nun, choosing to “first give three years of my life to serve my country in Vietnam”. There she was gang raped by three of her fellow soldiers. She says she joined the Story to Song program to help others who have experienced the same thing. “We can’t heal such deep traumas alone. I wanted to let women know there is life after MST, but don’t try to do it alone.”
McClenenahan’s songwriter, Madison, Wisconsin’s Shawndell Marks says, “I wanted to do the song justice, to give this story nuance. I almost quit music because of this song!” The result, “Sister Sarge”, illustrates how anger and pain can evolve into a new personal mission.
Through its workshops, retreats and CD releases, “Warrior Songs seeks to educate the public and veteran’s communities about veteran’s issues like PTSD, MST and other war traumas”, says founder Jason Moon. “Helping veterans to turn the destructive force of war into something meaningful and beautiful allows them to reclaim hope and joy as important forces in their lives.”
The Warrior Songs “Story to Song” program produces a CD compilation every two years, each focusing on a different aspect of returning military veteran’s stories. Work has already begun on 2020’s Vol. 3 release, which will feature songs from Vietnam era vets.
Warrior Songs founder Jason Moon and some of the “Women At War” vets, musicians and songwriters are available by phone, Skype or email for interviews. Media staff can also request downloads of songs from Warrior Songs.