// Our First Decade

SongwritingWith:Soldiers held its first retreat in October 2012 near Fort Hood, TX with eight veterans. In October 2022, we held our 10th Anniversary retreat at the same location serving eight new veterans—the need is still there and the impact of the program even more evident after 10 years.

“This retreat restored my faith in humanity. People really do care.”
— Scott, U.S. Army (October 2012)

“The longer I am away from the fantastic experience with SongwritingWith:Soldiers
…the more I appreciate what happened that weekend!”
— Don, Vietnam Veteran (October 2022)

We have been working on a very modest budget, but the ratio of SW:S resources to impact is unprecedented. Overall impact from 2012-2022: 66 weekend retreats held; 550+ attendees, expanding to 2-3 family members and subsequently to 3-5 peers, bringing a total number of community members impacted to more than 6,000. In addition, we have served 2,000+ combat veterans through SW:S Collaborative Songwriting programs through a partnership with the Warrior PATHH program. Many more have been reached through a nationally aired PBS concert, as well as outreach concerts and streaming events.

In 2023 we will deliver more programs than ever and undertake strategic planning for 2024-2026.

In considering our potential as a nonprofit organization to effect positive change in the lives of vulnerable populations, we are seeking multi-year investments in our sustainable growth and proven outcomes as we scale life-changing programming to reach additional veterans and their families.

Capacity-building can mean many things for nonprofits. At this juncture, for SW:S it means investing in:

Core Programming

  • Weekend Retreats that use SW:S Collaborative Songwriting and creative applications grounded in the tenets of positive psychology led by master artists trained within the SW:S model.
  • Post-retreat materials and offerings in which participants are sent home with tools to continue to explore their innate creativity and allow alumni to have something tangible to share with their family, friends, and community; and post-retreat calls that reinforce rich connections, bring positive memories back from the weekend.
  • PATHH support expansion with our partner to provide revenue stability and provide a scalable program with the SW:S Collaborative Songwriting module embedded.

The SW:S Team

  • Curriculum and Training designed to cultivate resources to develop and train new teams result in true organizational scalability.
  • Organizational Strength by building our organizational foundation to be sustainable with adequate working capital in the form of unrestricted operating support which allows us to add key staff and resources to be responsive to the needs of the population we serve.

Evidence-Base Applications and Outcomes

  • Strengthen our Collaborative Songwriting programs by continuing our successful research partnerships with major institutions and veteran service organizations and refining our offerings to identify the most impactful partners to scale outcomes of the Collaborative Songwriting programs.
  • Further develop and apply Positive Psychology/Post Traumatic Growth (PTG) applications and assessments for use in our unique target populations, help further the science of building strength and resilience

Outreach and Community

  • Cataloging, sharing content from the treasure trove of more than 400 soldier songs documented in music, photos, video, and lyrics, and translating them to become a collective forum to spark healing in conflict zones around the world.
  • Community events/performances that create ways to advance the music and build connections around the globe to help foster our work, expand our social and digital resources to tell SW:S stories to global audiences, and secure high profile ambassadors to bring greater attention to our work.
  • Bridging Communities through a curriculum for discussion groups, civilian and military alike that would bring a greater understanding and support for the challenges faced by our returning service members.

To learn more about our future plans and support our mission contact:

Melissa Houck, Advancement Director at melissa@songwritingwithsoldiers.org

Reflections on Strengths

In 2023 we published the final Reflections book in the 10th Anniversary series. This edition is a “Reflections on Strengths” and spotlights the many strengths we saw throughout 2022 and through all we do every year. When reading the book, consider your own strengths and the important strengths you give to SongwritingWith:Soldiers.

THE POWER OF CONNECTIONS

Our 2022 Reflections book spotlights the Power of Connections. We hope it helps you to feel the importance of connections in all of our lives, and the important connection you have to SongwritingWith:Soldiers. 

REFLECTIONS ON CREATIVITY

Our 2021 compilation book features stories that show the impact of creativity. We continue to document the long-tail of the stories behind the songs to give insight into the power of our mission to build creativity, connections and strengths.

REFLECTIONS VOLUME ONE

In 2020 we published our first compilation book of stories to share publicly with permission from these participants. This documents the stories behind the songs to give insight into the power of building creativity, connections and strengths.