KAHULUI, Hawaii, Oct. 9 "Stay Strong" is a moving,forceful reminder to our servicemen and women that the nation respects andreveres them and will not forget them when they return home. The song isdesigned to raise awareness about Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and toraise money to build a state-of-the-art PTSD treatment facility in Hawaii forreturning combat vets who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. "Stay Strong" isco-written by Keith Crosby, a decorated combat veteran who served in Vietnam.The featured vocalist is Charles Cook, a vet who served on active duty inAfghanistan and Iraq and toured at military bases as a member of "Tops inBlue," a traveling USAF entertainment group comprised of soldiers.
"Stay Strong's" powerful message comes at a time when there are mountingconcerns that the incidence of traumatic brain injury is producing a highnumber of cases of PTSD. According to the latest Pentagon estimates, tens ofthousands may develop debilitating long-term problems.
The $3.99 "Stay Strong" CD comes with a postcard that can be filled outand returned to the song's executive producers at StayStrongNation.org. Theywill distribute these messages of support to the soldiers, posting them inmess halls and other places where the troops congregate. Consumers can orderthe CD by going on the organization's website --http://www.staystrongnation.org.
StayStrongNation.org has received a congratulatory letter from the WhiteHouse on behalf of President George W. Bush.
In addition, the proceeds from the CD sales will go to raise money for are-entry and PTSD treatment facility in Hawaii. Expected to cost some $15million, the center will provide soldiers returning from combat zones anddiagnosed with stress any necessary therapy within a relaxed environment,along with their families.
The project is the vision of Keith Crosby and Gresford Lewishall,president and vice president -- respectively -- of the music label Boo YouBack Productions, who have formed StayStrongNation.org and filed for a501(c)(3) charitable status. This grassroots effort reflects their commitmentto the more than 1.65 million service members deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan.For these men, "Stay Strong" is a chance to make a real difference in thelives of our combat veterans.
Though both have extensive connections to the music business, theseresidents of Maui describe themselves as just "regular guys." Crosby is amaintenance worker and Lewishall, a tour bus operator. Crosby has beencomposing for nearly 40 years and Lewishall has been involved in musicpromotion since the 1990s.
Keith Crosby, the song's co-writer and co-executive producer and adecorated vet who served active duty in Vietnam, continues to suffer frompost-traumatic stress. He drew inspiration for the song from his ownexperiences and explains, "I understand what soldiers are going through and Ibelieve they'll be able to really relate to the song's message. We wantservice members who have been in combat areas and their families to understandthat the earlier they get whatever assistance they need, the better offthey'll be."
Charles Cook, one of the song's lead vocalists, toured for 8 years inAfghanistan, Iraq and Iran. His long career in the U.S. Air Force offered himthe opportunity to audition for the "Tops in Blue," a traveling USAFentertainment group and he was invited to join the team in 2003. His tourbegan at the start of Military Operations "Enduring Freedom" (the war onAfghanistan) and "Iraqi Freedom" and took him into Baghdad, Kosovo, Bosnia andCuba, delivering a message of hope and encouragement that he felt the soldiersso desperately needed.
An April 2008 Rand Corporation study noted that 20 percent of veterans whoserved in either Iraq or Afghanistan reported signs of major depression orstress disorder. According to the survey, many service members said they donot seek treatment for psychological illnesses because they fear it will harmtheir careers.
The PTSD treatment facility in Hawaii that StayStrongNation.org is raisingmoney for will not only allow returning soldiers to receive treatment frommedical professionals, but also to take advantage, along with their families,of an idyllic retreat and such amenities as tennis and basketball courts,whale watching, parasailing, jet skiing, musical programs and a computercenter.
"Stay Strong" was written by Crosby along with Michael Lietz (aka Bishop).It was produced, recorded and mixed by Robbeatz with music by DeVon Johnson.L.A. Keith Crosby and Gresford Lewishall are the executive producers. Thesoundtrack also features vocalist Amber Riley.
StayStrongNation.org has also forged an alliance with another non-profitformed by returning war veterans called "Wounded Warrior Mentor Program,"whose mandate is to provide unique programs and services to meet their needsincluding helping them to find jobs. Sgt. Melissa Cramblett is one of themembers of "Wounded Warrior Mentor Program"(http://www.wpwoundedwarriormentorprogram.com) who served combat duty on thefrontlines in Iraq, and among her injuries she suffers from PTSD. Cramblett,along with the Stay Strong founders, is on a mission to help returning vets.
Contact: Cindy Rakowitz at (818) 783-3307 or Diane Blackman at(212) 989-3646
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