CreatiVet of the Week
We would like to introduce Robert “Bobby” Grey III from Thomasville, NC. We had the privilege to meet Bobby when he came to Nashville to be a part of our Veteran Songwriting Program. Below is a snippet of his story. We would also like to give a big thank you to Johnny Garcia and Brian Carper for taking the time to make some music with Bobby.
Bobby served in the Marines from 2003 to 2007. While deployed to Afghanistan, an Improvised Explosive Device hidden in a dump truck barreled through Bobby’s small Forward Operating Base and detonated, killing several of his fellow Marines instantly and knocking him to the ground. At the time of the explosion, Bobby was 15 feet away from the kill zone which would have claimed his life.
After returning home, the loss of his brothers weighed heavily upon him. He struggled with survivor’s guilt that sent him spiraling into a deep depression. He tried medication but his pain continued, and his marriage and work suffered. One evening in 2013, he returned home from his job, yelled at his wife, and went into their backyard. His wife recalled thinking he was just going to the garage to release some steam, which was a normal activity for bad days, and she didn’t follow him.
A short time later, Bobby’s wife received a phone call from him. Wondering why he was calling her from the garage, she answered to the sound of struggling on the other end of the line. Fearing the worst, she ran to the back yard only to find Bobby dangling from a rope in a tree 15 feet off the ground. She ran to the neighbor’s house, who brought a ladder and helped cut Bobby down. If not for an unintended pocket dial, Bobby wouldn’t be here today.
Bobby spent the next week in a coma. When he woke up, he couldn’t remember what had happened. The diagnosis was that the combination of prescribed medications, anger and depression had caused him to black out and unconsciously attempt to kill himself. Embarrassed and heartbroken at having put his wife through such a nightmare, Bobby returned home and flushed all of his pills down the toilet. He was determined to find an alternative that wouldn’t put his life or his family at risk like that again.
Though off medication, Bobby continued to struggle with symptoms of post-traumatic stress. In early
2016, Bobby heard about the CreatiVets songwriting program and decided to apply — he said he was
willing to give anything a chance to help him heal. He joined us in Nashville in March of 2016, and was introduced to songwriters Johnny Garcia and Brian Carper for his songwriting session. Johnny Garcia is the lead guitarist for Garth Brooks, and after hearing Bobby’s story during the songwriting session and working with Bobby to write a song, Johnny said that it was one of the greatest honors of his life to help this veteran who was struggling to express his story through music. Johnny’s father was a Vietnam vet who never opened up about his experience, so the opportunity to gain some insight into a veteran’s struggle was special on both a personal and professional level.
The song Bobby wrote with the songwriters is called “Thank God I Ain’t Good At Dying.” Bobby said the whole experience was more than he could ever expect. Bobby wanted to incorporate something personal into the song, a quote he already had tattooed on his arm, “Not all wounds are visible”. We asked Bobby what he wanted verterans to take away from this song. He said, “The message from the song is to let your guard down and your ego go. Let other people who want to help, help you. Don’t feel so guarded. As much as you feel alone you’re not. Help is right in front of your face”.
A few weeks later, when Garth Brooks was playing a concert near Bobby’s hometown, Johnny invited Bobby to the show and gave him a behind the scenes tour and VIP treatment during the concert. Bobby was thrilled!