The American Legion is America’s largest Veterans service organization, with nearly two and a half million members. The Legion exists to support the men and women who have served in the U.S. military. Part of the organization’s function is to raise awareness for Veterans in areas such as benefits, legislation, education, and treatment for ailments that are prevalent among the Veteran community, such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
In an effort to reach more Veterans and inform the public about PTSD, the American Legion is partnering with Grammy Award-winning singing group, The Oak Ridge Boys. The legacy of the group dates back to the 1940’s, with all current members performing together since the 1970’s. The group consists of lead singer Duane Allen, bass singer Richard Sterban, tenor Joe Bonsall and baritone William Lee Golden. Besides winning Grammy Awards, The Oak Ridge Boys have won CMA and Academy of Country Music Awards. They continue to tour the country, performing such country and gospel favorites as “Elvira, “GI Joe and Lillie” and “American Made.”
The Oak Ridge Boys have agreed to participate in a national awareness and fundraising campaign to support the detection and treatment of mental health issues in Veterans, including PTSD.
Joe Bonsall, a member of The Oak Ridge Boys since 1973, wrote the inspirational song that was biographical about his Veteran parents, titled, “G.I. Joe and Lillie.” Bonsall’s parents were both World War II Veterans. His father spent much of his life living with the emotional scars of war.
Growing up, Bonsall experienced firsthand how mental health issues can affect a Veteran family, making The Oak Ridge Boys fitting allies for the American Legion.
“Uniting with the American Legion to raise awareness of those who are suffering, as my father did, is work we are proud to champion.” Bonsall said.
The American Legion estimates that around 20% of Veterans from the wars in Iraq and Iraq will face varying degrees of PTSD. The organization has been working with the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Department of Defense, several research institutions, as well as individual Veterans who suffer from PTSD, as part of their effort to find solutions and treatments for those who suffer with TBI and PTSD.
The inclusion of The Oak Ridge Boys will help take the American Legion’s fight to an additional front. As part of the battle plan, this alliance will reach more Americans and help more Veterans and Veteran families afflicted with the invisible wounds of war.
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Military Connection: Oak Ridge Boys Combat PTSD: By Debbie Gregory