Tyler Magerkurth, West Point Class of 2010 Graduate, Division 1 College Tennis Varsity Letter Winner, High School State Champion, social club leader, and my son, came back from his US Army deployment in Afghanistan in 2013, a changed man.

Why? Why would one of the happiest, emotionally sound and positive people, come back from war feeling like nothing he did was good enough?

During Tyler’s deployment, he served as a platoon leader in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Part of the job included leading his team on numerous missions all over Afghanistan assisting with the closure of 27 outlying combat outposts. Often their movements were attacked and after 9 months of living on edge, when Tyler returned home, he just didn’t feel “right.” He struggled with feeling like himself during normal day-to-day decisions and activities following his combat experience.

While Tyler was in Afghanistan, I attended a SongwritingWith:Soldiers retreat where I met SW:S co-founders, Darden Smith and Mary Judd and instantly connected with the mission of SW:S. While there, my West Point classmate Ray and I wrote a song about our experiences as leaders in the US Army. The process of “opening up” and sharing experiences was thoroughly impressive.

After Tyler’s return from Afghanistan, he was struggling with symptoms of PTSD which was elevated while on base at Ft. Hood during the 2014 shootings. In 2016, I finally encouraged him to attend a SW:S retreat. Tyler went and poured out his emotions and shared that he wanted to regain his positive outlook on life, ultimately writing the song “Winner.”

This SW:S experience for Tyler was the turning point in his Afghanistan recovery. SW:S had such a major impact that I have committed to support and assist SW:S to help other veterans in need of this emotional recovery experience by now serving on the SW:S Board of Directors.

Today, Tyler is working at a Music Marketing Agency while also training as a Recording Studio Engineer through a VA sponsored Vocational Rehab program, and is loving life as a Winner again!

Tyler Magerkurth with parents Brian and Valarie Magerkurth. Photo Courtesy Brian Magerkurth.


Tyler Magerkurth / Darden Smith

Everything looks great on paper
I should have no complaints
But when I look in the mirror
All I see is all that I ain’t
I used to be the life of the party
Now I’ve got nothing to say
Life comes towards me
I walk the other way

I just want to feel like a winner
I just want feel like a winner again

It’s all fun and games on paper
Till the day you understand
That life is pretty random
And it’s all out of your hands
I’m worn out from worrying bout what might go wrong
I used to be so laid back
I’d do anything to get the train
Upright on the track

I just want to feel like a winner
I just want to feel like a winner
I just want feel like a winner again
I just want to feel like a winner again

It’s the lack of understanding
It’s the lack of love
Makes a man get angry
And pick up a gun
We’re all humans
Brother can you see
Underneath our skin
You’re the same as me

We all want to feel like a winner
We all want to feel like a winner
I just want to feel like a winner again
I just want to feel like a winner again

© 2016 SongwritingWith:Soldiers Music / Darden Smith Music (ASCAP)

Joy and Tyler Magerkurth, Belton, TX, February 2016. Photo: Matt Lankes.