by Dan Marshall, Disciples of Danger
In the run-up to Veteran’s Day 2019, a unique coalition of military veteran musicians, and veteran-serving organizations in the Atlanta area came together to present a concert event called #StrengthInNumbers, to heighten awareness about mental health issues that veterans deal with every day: PTSD, Depression, and Suicide Risk.
On November 2, 2019, at Furnace 41, the #StrengthInNumbers concert brought together metal, hard rock, and rap acts Disciples of Danger, Doc Todd, Black Knight Satellite, and Shattergrind. All of the acts featured military veteran members, with heavy lyrical focus on the mental health challenges facing Veterans readjusting to life after service. Stackup.org, a veteran-serving gaming/streaming organization, live-streamed the concert on the front page of Twitch.tv, one of the world’s biggest video streaming platforms, reaching a broad online audience.
During breaks between acts, representatives from veteran-serving organizations Alchemy Sky, PTSD Foundation of America, VETLANTA, Hope Center for Veterans, and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention spoke to the large online broadcast audience to educate them about the core issues affecting veterans’ mental health, and to spread the message to veterans who are struggling that they are not alone, and help is available.
Many people are unaware, according to the Veterans Administration, that 17 veterans a day die by suicide; more than 6000 veterans a year die by suicide. Veterans are far more likely to die by suicide that non-veterans. Earlier this year, two veterans, in separate incidents right here in Georgia, took their own lives while at VA facilities, illustrating the urgency of the situation.
#StrengthInNumbers was conceived to increase awareness about PTSD, depression, and veterans’ mental health issues at the local, state, and national levels, and to de-stigmatize the act of seeking help.
Event co-organizer Dan Marshall says, “The band Disciples Of Danger (DOD) is made up of several former veterans of various branches of the military. The song lyrics focus on themes like PTSD, depression, and mental health issues that they’re personally working through as they adjust to civilian life. We decided that turning this show into a service project was a natural, logical step for the band and gives the music a worthy purpose; we see the amazing potential of music to reach people who need to hear this message.”
About the Music
The Disciples of Danger, a rap-core band featuring veterans of various branches, is led by Stephen Smitley, a former Marine who speaks openly about his struggles with depression and PTSD in the song lyrics. Elements of rap, metal, rock, and other genres in the vein of Rage Against The Machine, Linkin Park, and SevenDust can be heard in their music.
According to Smitley, “My hope is that #StrengthInNumbers will become an annual event. The overall goal is to make sure veterans who struggle know that they are not alone, and it’s OK to seek help…”
Rapper Doc Todd is a former Navy Corpsman who is a vocal advocate for veteran mental health issues, and has been seen on CNN and in PSAs with Diet Coke highlighting his experience overseas and his personal journey since returning from deployment. His album “Combat Medicine” is available on online outlets everywhere.
Also featured were Black Knight Satellite and Shattergrind, bands which feature military veteran members.
The service organizations partnering with #StrengthInNumbers included:
- VETLANTA serves Atlanta-area veterans and military
families by engaging local corporations and aligning Atlanta’s
network of Veterans Support Providers
- Alchemy Sky provides therapeutic music programs for
partners like the VA, VEO and Wounded Warrior Project
- The PTSD Foundation of America is a non-profit
organization dedicated to mentoring to our combat veterans
and their families with post-traumatic stress.
- The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention raises
awareness, funds scientific research and provides resources
and aid to those affected by suicide.
- Stackup.org brings both veterans and civilian supporters
together through a shared love of video gaming.
- Hope Center for Veterans offers free mentoring, peer
support, and group counseling so veterans may continue to
lead meaningful and productive lives.