From Coffee to Chorus | Operation Song

At 22 Sierra, supporting and advocating for our veteran community is our primary mission. A lot of times, our support and advocacy is not for traditional methods of treatment or therapy for things such as Post Traumatic Stress. There are many great organizations out there supporting veterans through interest- or activity-based methods, such as outdoor retreats, horseback riding, or culinary workshops. These types of organizations connect veterans with more than a healthcare provider or therapist; they connect them with a likeminded community of people who can relate to each other, which is arguably more impactful than traditional therapy.  One of these organizations is Operation Song, a nonprofit that connects veterans with professional songwriters and allows the veteran an opportunity to share a story through song. Recently, I had the amazing opportunity to team up with Operation Song and co-write a song with Matt McKinney, a Nashville songwriter and hitmaker with Sony Music Publishing. This experience was life-changing. Here’s a look into my journey of co-writing a song with a message to keep holding on.

I first heard about Operation Song through Grunt Style, a veteran-owned company known for its dedication to the military community. They were hosting an event called "Bourbon, Whiskey, and War Stories" in Chicago, featuring Operation Song. The Mission of Operation Song is to empower veterans, active-duty military, and their families, to tell their stories through the process of songwriting. Started in 2012 by hit Nashville songwriter, Bob Regan, Operation Song has grown from a Nashville based nonprofit, to one that reaches veterans all around the country. Since 2012, Operation Song has written over 1800 songs with veterans and family members from WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Desert Storm, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Gold Star Families. The idea of using music as a therapeutic outlet for veterans really resonated with me. I've always dreamed of writing songs, so this was a perfect chance to fulfill that dream while supporting a cause close to my heart. I knew right away that I wanted both myself and 22 Sierra Coffee to be involved.

Starting the process was easy. After applying on the Operation Song website, I quickly got connected with a professional songwriter for the genre of music I requested. I was lucky to be paired with Matt McKinney, a talented Nashville songwriter signed to Sony Music Publishing. Matt has written songs for artists like Cooper Alan, Trey Lewis, Jordan Davis, and Elle King. We set up a Zoom meeting to begin our songwriting session, and from the start, it was a collaborative and inspiring experience. Together, we wrote "Keep Holding On," a song with a powerful message of perseverance and hope during tough times. This project was especially meaningful to me since 22 Sierra Coffee was founded as a result to losing friends and fellow veterans to suicide. I wrote the lyrics for "Keep Holding On" after learning another guy I served with died by suicide as a way to outwardly express some feelings, so it means a lot that we were able to turn it into something that can be a message of hope. 

Working on this song was not only a personal dream come true but also a deeply moving experience. It allowed me to channel my creative passions into something that could make a real difference. The process was therapeutic and fulfilling, and I felt honored to help amplify the voices of veterans through music with Operation Song.

Matt and I are both thrilled with the result of our collaboration. The song will be recorded as a demo, and while it hasn’t been shared with the public yet, we believe it will resonate with many and spread an important message of resilience and support.

We plan to feature "Keep Holding On" on our website, in our marketing materials, and across our social media platforms once the demo is completed. Sharing this song is another way we can continue to raise awareness and support for our veterans' mental health.

I’m committed to staying involved with Operation Song, both personally and through 22 Sierra. This experience has shown me the powerful impact of music and storytelling. To learn more about Operation Song, or to donate, go to

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