WASHINGTON, DC, UNITED STATES
By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON - Just in time for the holidays, 13 major recording artists have created a musical "Thank You" for the troops.
"CD for the Troops" will be available for anyone with a valid military identification card to download at no cost from the Army and Air Force Exchange Service Web site, www.aafes.com, beginning Nov. 17.
"We're thankful to all the artists who have agreed to lend their name and talent to this special CD," said Allison Barber, deputy assistant secretary of defense for internal communications and community liaison. "To have 'CD for the Troops' produced and dedicated in special honor to our active-duty military members and veterans is just another demonstration of the support so many people in our nation have for our troops."
Mitch Bainwol, chief executive officer of the Recording Industry Association of America, agreed. "This is an historic project. It shows that a music community that has many voices speaks with just one when it comes to support for men and women in uniform," he said in a news release from the Defense Department's America Supports You program. "We are proud to come together to help offer a compilation with some of today's best-selling artists and songs. We hope his album will be music to the ears of our troops."
America Supports You is a Defense Department program connecting citizens and corporations with military personnel serving at home and abroad.
Getting this project, which combined the music of Billy Joel, Brooks & Dunn, the Goo Goo Dolls, Jewel, Josh Groban, Los Lonely Boys, Melissa Ethridge, the Neville Brothers, Sarah McLachlan, the Lt. Dan Band, Montgomery Gentry, The Fray, and Five For Fighting, to troops' ears took true teamwork. John Ondrasik, the singer-songwriter who performs under the stage name "Five For Fighting," was intimately involved with making sure that happened.
"Beyond the artists and managers, all the record companies and publishers had to approve free downloads to over 1.5 million potential users," he said. "(It) also could not have been achieved without the financial, logistical, and emotional support of (the Recording Industry Association of America), AAFES, TriWest Health Care Alliance, America Supports You, Media Base and Sony Manufacturing."
Ondrasik spearheaded the CD after being asked to write a forward and contribute a song to a compilation of local bands sending music to troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"I thought it was a wonderful gesture," he said, explaining his belief that music is a unique medium that can affect morale and mental health. "I started making a few calls to friends of mine, and six months later we have the CD for the troops."
A staunch supporter of the nation's troops, Ondrasik said he is grateful for the sacrifices of American Service members. He said he knows men and women who made and are making those sacrifices have ensured his family's liberty and enabled him to pursue music as a profession.
"Let's be honest, there would be no songs of consequence without the soldiers who allow us a voice," he said. "I can't speak for anyone but myself, (but) I think it's important to recognize that artists from across the political spectrum came together to make this gesture of appreciation and thanks to our troops."
While Ondrasik hopes the downloadable version of "CD for the Troops" will be available on the AAFES Web site through April, tangible versions also will find their way to the troops. Troops in theater, military hospitals and Fisher Houses will get a share of 200,000 hard CDs, he said.
Of those CDS, 50,000 will go to two care package groups that are supporters of America Supports You. Utah-based Operation Give will get 40,000 for its Operation Christmas Stocking program, and Operation Shoebox will get 10,000 for its holiday packages.
No matter how the troops hear the music, Ondrasik said he hopes it "inspires, motivates, provides an avenue for reflection, or simply distracts you from a mission few can imagine, much less undertake," he said.
"If anything, let each tune be a small piece of home to carry you forward," he said to the troops. "Thank you for all you do, and feel free to shoot me an e-mail with requests for 'CD for the Troops II.'"
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This work, America Supports You: Artists Create CD to Thanks Troops, by Samantha Quigley, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.