Mission: Music Therapy
Service members from all branches of the military are faced head-on with a variety of challenges ranging from physical injuries to psychological trauma when returning from a warzone, most recently the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Transitioning back to civilian life, known as reintegration, can prove to be extremely difficult for veterans. The members of the RECON-1 Music Group are all combat veterans (with the exception of one artist) that understand the struggles that other veterans deal with every day. Their goal is to help their fellow veterans by using music as a tool for processing experiences through what they call “music therapy”. Their music is geared toward military veterans to give them a sense of reconnection to a community that they may be missing after being immersed in the comradery of military service. The idea of music therapy gives veterans something they can relate to and somewhere to turn for comfort and coping with the traumas of war. To explain their name “REDCON-1”, in the military REDCON stands for Readiness Condition, and the “one” means a full alert status; the unit is ready to move and fight at a moment’s notice. According to the Veterans Administration, 20 out of 100 veterans that served in Operation Iraq Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom are diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) every year. Jeff Barillo, aka Soldier Hard, the founder of REDCON-1 served as an M1 Armor Crewman in the Army. He was diagnosed with PTSD by the Veterans Administration and turned to music to help reduce the symptoms of PTSD that include depression, stress and anxiety. He believes that “music can save many other veterans’ lives who suffer from the same illness”. He says: “When I create music, I literally get lost. I forget about anything going on around me. I escape to a beautiful place where I love being; words really can’t explain it. Everything is just right.” Soldier Hard has made multiple appearances on MSNBC, NBC and CNN to discuss the music group’s work as well as his individual music career. Although Soldier Hard reached his end of active service in 2010, other members of REDCON-1 still serve on active duty in their respective branches of the military, like Sergeant Stephen Hobbs who has completed multiple deployments in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. J-Deuce, another member of the REDCON team, is an active duty Staff Sergeant in the Marine Corps with multiple deployments. Jack Nastie is the newest artist to become a part of REDCON-1, and although he has no prior military experience, he is an active supporter of the veteran community and the mission of RECON-1. According to his artist profile on the REDCON-1 website, he is “considered an asset to the community and the music group”. Other members of REDCON-1 include their president Sgt. Patrick Uloth (USMC), Panda (aka Sgt. Tommy Labelle) (Army), and Sug (USMC). The REDCON-1 Music Group has gained an extensive social network following from the veteran community, military families, and supporters of the armed services. They perform at military events, benefit concerts and fundraisers offering signed albums, headphones, and other electronic accessories with their logo on them. To make their music as accessible as possible, they also offer free downloads of their music in MP3 format on their website in addition to handing out free CDs at every event and many of their music videos are available on YouTube. The music group often works closely with other organizations that directly support the veteran community, such as Battle in Distress and Warrior Pointe. They all share a similar mission: to use their common bond to help veterans reintegrate to civilian life and to use any means necessary to help those suffering every day with PTSD.