From War to Words - Nashville International Airport (BNA)

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Nashville International Airport® (BNA®) recently honored U.S. veterans with a powerful exhibit of photography and music. Each of the artful portraits created by award-winning photographer Jason Myers includes a QR code that links to an original song written by the pictured veteran.  

The project was spearheaded by CreatiVets, a nonprofit organization that helps wounded veterans find relief and healing through various art forms. Its songwriting program pairs participants with hit songwriters backstage at the Grand Ole Opry to channel their stories and feelings into lyrics. Professional session musicians then record the songs.

Brett Gillan, program director for CreatiVets, explains that displaying the portraits and song lyrics at BNA and other airports helps the outreach organization “find veterans where they are.” Popular research indicates that 20 vets die by suicide every day, and 14 didn’t seek help; but Gillan notes that new research says the daily loss is likely 2.5 times worse. “The biggest reason for suicide is bottling up feelings,” he explains. “If veterans are travelling and see the exhibit, they can hear other veterans’ stories and might decide to share their own trauma through songwriting or some other kind of art.”

Not surprisingly, the songwriting program is often transformational for veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress, anxiety and/or depression. “That three-hour writing session did more for me than the past six years at the VA,” said one participant.

To date, the CreatiVets music program has released 45 songs, which have been downloaded or streamed more than 4 million times.

“As a veteran, I’m extremely proud that the airport authority chose to partner with CreatiVets,” says Doug Kreulen, president and chief executive officer of BNA. “Using art to highlight the talent, skills, sacrifice and passion of our wounded veterans inspires me personally and it has also inspired the millions of passengers traveling through Nashville International Airport. Our Arts at the Airport program considers it a privilege to highlight such a compelling and meaningful exhibit at BNA. To my fellow veterans, thank you, I couldn’t be prouder to have served with you!”

Other airports interested in hosting the exhibit can send inquiries to:


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