#VeteranOfTheDay Air Force Veteran Mike Cowger


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Today’s #VeteranOfTheDay is Air Force Veteran Mike Cowger and his #OperationSong “My War”. Mike served during the Vietnam War from 1966 to 1974.

Mike served as an aircraft mechanic in many locations including Thailand, the Philippines, Taiwan, Japan, Germany, Guam and Vietnam. He participated in flights with the group Blind Bat, where he completed missions in Vietnam.

Mike wrote “My War” to express his experience with the Vietnam War, as well as to bring attention to the common feeling among Veterans that “war changes you.” His grandfather fought in World War I in the trenches and returned home more distant from his life and family. Mike’s father fought in World War II and landed on Omaha Beach on D-Day. Similarly, he returned home lost in thought and began a drinking habit. When Mike came back from Vietnam, he experienced PTSD, which went unrecognized for some time. This affected his daily life and his relationship with his family, leading to a close attempt at suicide.

Mike decided to attend therapy sessions at his local Vet Center where he met combat Veterans with traumatic memories similar to his own. During this time, he found that, “A good chunk of Vietnam Veterans, after they’ve raised their families, have time to think about things.” He came to the realization that, “They’ve all done different things, all talking about the same PTSD experiences, and I’m finding out that we’re all the same. Just different things triggered us.” At one of his sessions, Mike attended a talk about Operation Song. At first, he dismissed the idea of writing his own song because he was not a combat Veteran, saying, “I don’t have a story. These are the guys that fought. I didn’t do any of this.” However, when he started writing down what happened to him in Vietnam, the song immediately began to develop. Drawing on his own story as well as those of his father and grandfather, Mike wrote his song “My War”.

Check out his song on sound cloud here: https://soundcloud.com/operationsong-tm/my-war.

Mike now works with the Vietnam Veterans of America in which he rehabs mobility equipment from the VA and gives it to Veterans, their families and anyone who needs it.

Thank you for your service, Mike!


Nominate a Veteran for #VeteranOfTheDay

Do you want to light up the face of a special Veteran? Have you been wondering how to tell your Veteran they are special to you? You’re in luck! VA’s #VeteranOfTheDay social media feature is an opportunity to highlight your Veteran and his/her service.

It’s easy to nominate a Veteran. All it takes is an email to newmedia@va.gov with as much information as you can put together, along with some good photos. Visit our blog post about nominating to learn how to create the best submission.


Operation Song

Operation Song™ has spent the last five years bringing songwriting to the military and Veteran community to help with healing, service-related issues and injuries. A 501(c)(3) non-profit based in Nashville, Operation Song™ holds weekly workshops in Middle Tennessee and sponsors events and group retreats throughout the Southeast. Those they serve need no musical background, only the desire to tell their story. In a typical session, the songwriter listens and encourages the participant to lay out the “puzzle pieces” of his or her experience. Together, they arrange those pieces into verses and choruses. The result is a complete song that they can call their own. Operation Song serves Veterans of all conflicts. For more information about Operation Song™, visit their website: http://www.operationsong.org/


Graphic By Kierra Willis: Kierra Willis is a Graphic Communication Major at the University of Maryland University College. She currently has an AAS in Graphic Design and Visual Communications.

Author

Kelsey Turner

Kelsey Turner is a sophomore at Brown University studying public policy with a focus in education. She is also a social media intern for the US Department of Veteran Affairs.