While Memorial Day is an important celebration in honor of the servicemen and women of America’s military, it weighs heavily on many veterans.
“It’s that one time during the year where veterans will feel at some of their lowest points,” said Takosha Swan, an Iraq war veteran, singer, and military spouse.
The national holiday serves to remind Americans of the sacrifices made for their country and freedom. For veterans, however, it reminds them of buddies lost, Swan told The Epoch Times. It’s not just those lost in action. Losing a fellow veteran post discharge can be just as painful—and the suicide rate among veterans is 50 percent higher than in the general population (pdf).
After Swan joined the board of the Georgia Department of Veterans Services and its Suicide Prevention team, she felt the need to use her voice to help. And a mighty voice it is.
This Memorial Day, she released her new song, “Veteran Anthem,” a product of “pure inspiration,” as she described it.
Swan has been using her talent as part of her service, starting a military choir during her deployment in Iraq.
“Being in war, you need some type of inspiration,” she said.
Staying in a foreign environment, in a foreign country, one can start losing touch with reality.
“The thought that I used to have is no matter how far I walk, I’ll never get home,” she said.
Starting a choir was a way for her and others to hold it together.
“I saw that music was something that we could all connect to. And it kept us inspired. It kept us sane,” she said.
Being the wife of a service member who just retired after 23 years, Swan has sung the National Anthem countless times both during her time in the military as well as for her husband’s unit, she said.
“I knew that what I could do was write music, and create something that can reach thousands or even millions of veterans. And that is how I came up with the Veteran Anthem.”
The lyrics of the song are meant both to lift the spirits of veterans and give advice to family and friends on how to help the veterans in their lives.
“I’m still worth it. I’m still your protector. I’m still your winner,” Swan cited the lyrics.
“Those are words that veterans need to hear at a time where they feel down.”
The advice is in the lyrics, “Give me a mission, give me a purpose,” she said.
“Purpose can be simple. It can be, ‘Okay, come here and help me move’ or, you know, ‘help me fix something.’ … It doesn’t have to be something really deep, but something to take their minds to a place [where they can say] that ‘Okay, you know what? Yes, people do need me. I am still supposed to be here. I do have a life outside of the military.’”
A sense of purpose can be a major issue after leaving military life, she said.
People commonly join the military at 18 years old. While their peers may get a chance to adapt to adult civilian life somewhat gradually, veterans may need to adjust all at once upon discharge.
“You feel like, ‘Where do I go now? Where do I go from here?” Swan said. “In the military, there’s always a mission. There’s always an assignment. There’s always someone to tell you, ‘This is what you will do next. This is what you will do next.’ And then when you step out, and there’s no one around to say something to you about, ‘Here’s your mission today. Here’s your purpose today.’ And you’re just in a very lonely place.”
“And you can be around family members, you can be around lots of people, and you can still feel as if you’re in a very lonely place, because the civilian world is not set up at all like the military world.”
She’s confident her song will help veterans at a time when they need it most.
“Sending out the Veteran Anthem is a huge way for us to uplift their spirits at a time that is usually a very sad time for veterans,” she said.