JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS
As a child, growing up in Baxley, Georgia, his dream was to one day share his gift with the world by using music to express himself and perform songs that made people feel good.
Retired U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Ron Henry, now assigned to Joint Base Langley-Eustis as a memorial affairs coordinator, recently got his chance alongside a veteran and active-duty service member singing group, Voices of Service on “America’s Got Talent,” but his journey didn’t start on that stage, it began as a young child with a dream.
“I started off singing in church as a six-year-old,” Henry said. “Singing was always something I wanted to do, it’s a part of me and who I am, it’s the most important way I express myself.”
Singing never stopped being a part of Henry, his passion carried over into his adult years.
Henry joined the Army in 1988 as a combat infantryman and continued to show his love for music by singing the National Anthem at events and performing during chaplain services.
“It was rewarding for me to share my gift with others very early in my career,” Henry said. “When I joined the Army, I had no idea I could even sing and perform in the military, but when I found out I could, I would use it to motivate my fellow Soldiers and bring comradery within the company and unit.”
In 2003, Henry was deployed in support of Iraqi Freedom with the 101st Air Borne Division where he went through life-altering experiences.
He expressed how music was something inside of him that he had to share with others to help them get through the deployment and take their minds off being away from family and friends.
“Music was one of the things that got us through what we were dealing with during that deployment,” he said. “The challenges of post-traumatic stress disorder are real, it is a silent killer if you don’t deal with it. I have been blessed enough to learn how to deal with my struggles and music has been a pivotal point in my healing process.”
Henry retired from the Army in 2008 and joined the Center for American Opportunity (CAMMO) in 2009, whose mission is to create music-based therapeutic programming and outlets for service members, veterans and family members.
“CAMMO has helped me tremendously and it continues to do so to this day,” Henry said. “It has allowed me to be transparent with my fellow service men and women and show them no matter what you are dealing with you can make it and rise above it all and heal from this.”
While at CAMMO, Henry has the opportunity to work with young service members along with veterans to deal with their struggles through one of the things he loves most.
“At CAMMO we get the chance to help our comrades’ deal with their pain through music,” Henry said. “In some instances we sing and help them develop their artistry and other instances we take what they went through and write a song for them to record in the studio and let it out.”
Henry continued to explain how dealing with one’s PTSD is vital for them as well as the people around them.
“We have to continue to be strong and have the courage to heal not only for ourselves, but for our family and friends,” Henry said. “It’s motivating and encouraging….that strength will spread like a wildfire and amplify through the world.”
Leading up to the auditions, the Voices of Service had one common goal in mind.
“Our main goal throughout the “America’s Got Talent” experience was to bring awareness to PTSD and traumatic brain injuries and let people know that using music as therapy is an intricate part of helping people get through their everyday struggles,” Henry explained.
When it came time for the young child from Georgia to shine bright, he did just that alongside the other group members.
“When I stepped on that stage my feelings and emotions were through the roof,” Henry exclaimed. “It was overwhelming to know that through our performance we were able to touch the audience and judges and share our experiences with them. It’s a milestone in not only our individual lives, but as a group.”
"If this is my last day singing I am fulfilled in my life," he said. “It’s not about being famous or getting notoriety, it's about bringing awareness to [PTSD] and supporting the warrior."
Voices of Service will continue to compete on “America’s Got Talent,” after securing a spot through the audition rounds.