By: Ali Elizabeth Turner
On the evening of Tuesday, June 18, I was working on Athens Now articles and had the TV on in the background. It was just that — background, and the program was America’s Got Talent. Then all at once my attention was riveted to the sounds of some of the finest musical warriors I have ever heard, a quartet of three men and a woman. The group goes by the name of Voices of Service, and they had all served in Afghanistan and/or Iraq on multiple deployments. Each had suffered loss, and I presume also grapple with what is known as Survivor’s Syndrome, the complex blend of relief at having survived a war and guilt over the fact that someone else didn’t. To cope with that loss while they were still in country, they would sing, and that is how the group was born.
PTSD is something at which Voices of Service is taking aim using the power of music, and their message is described as follows: “We want to spread a message of love and hope for everyone in America who is coping with any challenge in life to show what music can do.”
The members of Voices of Service are their founder, Master Sgt. (Ret) Caleb Green; Sgt. Major (Active Duty) Crystal Rheams; Staff Sgt. (Retired) Ron Henry; and Sgt. First Class Jason Hanna. The song they selected was Katy Perry’s “Rise” and the performance was flawless.
Crystal Rheams led off the singing with an opening line that sounded positively angelic, and the guys blended perfectly with her and each other. It was not long before the whole crowd and the judges were on their feet. She particularly got to me when they showed the video of the group’s back story prior to the performance. Each of the members told about their tours of duty, some of their struggles and losses, their dreams, and what an honor it was to be able to sing to America, especially service members.
Crystal said, “To have this opportunity, it reminds you what a great country we do live in. And it’s for those people, those men and women who have given the ultimate sacrifice that I stand on the stage and sing tonight.”
Ron Henry said, “We would sit around and, you know, just start singing, and that would help us get over what we went through that day, you know, just bring a sense of hope to the loss that we dealt with.” Then he smiled and said, “The bond of music got us through it all.”
In spite of what they have been through, their intention to serve is unwavering, and their love for their country is unshaken. Caleb said, “We all have a common bond, to serve our country. Crystal said, “It is what gives us the power, the fire to do what it is we do.”
A visibly moved Terry Crews, who has been everything from an NFL player to comedian and film star said, “I could feel the healing.” And Simon Cowell, who is not exactly famous for being warm and fuzzy said, “This is what we need right now.” Voices of Service got four yeses from the judges and are advancing to the next round, and I believe there is nothing but good in store for them and anyone who will listen.
By: Ali ElizabethTurner