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Soldier organizes charity concert

FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. — Soldiers deployed overseas typically practice hobbies to deal with the anxiety of being in combat and separated from family for long periods. Some Soldiers work out. Others read, write journals or play video games. And some, like SFC Josh Romaker, play guitar and write songs.

While he admits to being a novice, Romaker said many other military singer-songwriters are more talented and can offer an opportunity through music for others to understand what Soldiers experience overseas. To showcase some of these talented Soldiers, Romaker is organizing a free concert at Beachaven Vineyards “Live on the Lawn” on Aug. 14 in Clarksville, Tenn.

“I'm hoping to raise awareness of military singer songwriters,” Romaker said. “The military has a large group of singer songwriters borne out of necessity — the music becomes a huge outlet to express good times, bad times and some painful experiences.”

Romaker said expressing himself through music helped him during his four deployments to Iraq. In between missions, Romaker would practice guitar and write lyrics to work through excitement, fear, anger, and a full range of other emotions.

Now a weapons sergeant in 5th Special Forces Group, Romaker started his Army career as an Infantryman in the 82nd Airborne Division. He left the Army in 1999 and worked as a private investigator. He came back to the Army after 9/11 serving in the 18th Airborne Corps before selection for Special Forces training.

Songs written by Soldiers transcend a military audience with universal and inspiring themes such as separation, crisis, loss and enjoying life, Romaker said.

“It is relevant to civilians because it is good music,” Romaker said.

Scheduled to perform at the concert are two bands with members from Fort Benning and Fort Knox.Forced Entry performs classic rock type music, Romaker said. Band members include a Gulf War veteran and an Operation Iraqi Freedom vet currently assigned as a Ranger instructor at Fort Benning.

James Corbin, an officer assigned to a unit at Fort Knox, will be performing with The Dirt Poor Authority. Romaker said Corbin's style and sound is acoustic rock similar to John Mayer.

The free concert is scheduled from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. There will be food and refreshments available for purchase, as well as raffles for prizes.

Proceeds will benefit the Special Operations Warrior Foundation, a nonprofit organization that provides scholarship grants to surviving children of special operations personnel who die in operational or training missions. SOWF also provides financial assistance to severely wounded special operations troops and their families.