Celebrity Causes: Mark Wills for USA Cares

By , Guest Celebrity Contributor
I have made numerous trips to Iraq and Afghanistan in the past ten years. I am always amazed by the dedication and professionalism of our troops under very stressful wartime conditions. When I returned from my first trip to visit our troops, I was surprised to find myself overcome with emotion every time I tried to speak of my experiences. In trying to recount the stories to my family, friends and strangers alike, I could not get through my thoughts without becoming emotional.

My father was a Vietnam veteran who returned before I was born. I had the all-American childhood growing up in a small Georgia town where people kept their doors unlocked and everyone knew your name. As a kid I heard all the Vietnam stories my father shared with his friends. He was a great provider but I felt there was this emotional disconnect in our family. One of the things I always wondered was why he would never take me hunting and never told me why. Once I recorded "Crazy Being Home" and played it for him, we started to talk honestly about the real story of what happened to him in Vietnam.
It is now apparent to me that my father's emotional disconnect was because he suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder stemming from his Vietnam deployment that was never treated. In the 1960s, the Veterans Administration had little research on the effects of PTSD. They did not how to diagnosis or treat it. I am very thankful through our family and church support; my father has become an amazing grandfather to my two daughters and a great father to me.
I had been hesitant to not only record the song but also put it on the new CD. I have never wanted to tread on the sacrifice that these brave soldiers have made for the protection of our way of life. However, after playing the song for several of my military friends, they all had the same reaction "THIS IS MY LIFE." They were adamant that the song be released so that it could bring awareness to the soldiers who are having a difficult time adjusting to life stateside. I can only imagine what our troops have to endure through "Battle" and then coming home and try to return to "Normal" life. How does a mother who is deployed for a year come home and immediately be a full time mother again? Every returning soldier has their own experience that will be part of them for the rest of their lives.
I became aware of USA Cares in 2009. I was contacted by the organization after they saw a TV special on the Great American Country Network (GAC) called My Iraq Diaries. I took a film crew to Iraq and had the privilege of performing and talking to some of America's finest. USA Cares has led the fight to bring PTSD and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) out of the shadows and to make sure that our returning men and women soldiers have access to treatment for these disabilities. I personally do not want another generation of soldier's children to have to deal with the issues I experienced when we CAN and SHOULD make sure everyone who needs help receives it.
We have made great strides in understanding how to recognize and treat PTSD and TBI since 2001. My hope is that by sharing "Crazy Being Home," the song will bring more awareness to PTSD/TBI issues and highlight the feelings and struggles these brave soldiers are coping with and allow us to provide for the treatment they so deserve.

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Mark Wills is a multi-platinum selling country music star with eight top 10 hits to his name including “19 Something,” “Wish You Were Here,” and “Don’t Laugh At Me;” all of which received nominations for Single, Song and Video of the Year by the Country Music Association. His new CD, Looking…

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