The Stephen Cochran Project

“I had a veteran come up the other day and say ‘Do you miss Afghanistan? I was like, What kind of question is that? He goes, I don’t mean like that, He goes, life was simple in Afghanistan, All I had to do was just wake up and don’t die.”

Stephen Cochran has started a movement. It is called The Stephen Cochran Project and it began with his current single and video ‘Pieces’. It deals with the war at home, after the soldier returns from overseas. The video has a strong focus on Post Traumatic Stress and suicide. There are over 3,600 veteran suicides monthly and Cochran plans to decrease those numbers significantly through awareness and education. The video was released on Memorial Day 2012. And featured a Public Service Announcement in the opening, which was filmed at the Nashville VA.

“The video goes to a dark place and back again,” stated Cochran.

Cochran wrote the song in 2010, after losing his record deal and his fiancee. Pieces is a song written from Stephen’s  life experience – doesn’t get more real than that.

“I wrote Pieces in the hospital dealing with my suicide attempt in 2010. The thing was, it was like I was embarrassed of it. When I got out I found myself going around and talking to others like me; telling them to ‘go get help.’ And I am thinking, well, there are other people that are doing this right now. Why am I not talking about this?,” says Cochran. “Maybe if they see that I did not do it and I gave it some time. I got some help and did what I needed to do for myself for the year; which was get back to being a veteran again, back around my other veterans. I went to visit hospitals. I went to Marine bases, Army bases, Fisher Houses and the reason I did that was because I was trying to get back around my veterans. It was the best therapy for me, and I wrote ‘Pieces’.”

It was shot in April 2012 and features actors playing a couple with a child. The Marine in the video is Daniel Dean and he is an actual Marine Sniper. He served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“In the video, he just came home and he and his wife are having problems. He’s disconnected as we would be. She’s yelling about something, he just leaves,” explains Cochran. “He goes to the bar. He’s drinking at the bar. Throws the glass, and ends up getting a hotel room; he’s contemplating suicide. He has the picture of him and his guys, he’s crying. He looks and his gun is on the nightstand and as he reaches for the gun, he actually grabs the hotline number for the VA Suicide Line. The next shot is him and his wife in therapy and then him, his wife, child and his dog playing in the park. The dog in the video is mine. We went through the steps, if someone could see this visually, it may help. What the problem is is that most of our veterans go home and stay home, they don’t come out. I have literally stayed in rooms for weeks, dark rooms, in my bed, with only the TV on.”

“Pieces” was not originally scheduled to be the single. However, that decision was quickly changed for him. “I was playing for the Commandant about a month ago, I played ‘Pieces’ and he came up to me and said ‘Stephen, you’ve got to release this song.’ We had just signed with New Voice and just went into the studio and recorded all the stuff we were going to have for releases and I was like ‘Sir, I can’t do that. I just signed a contract.’ He said ‘Stephen, we have the largest returning veterans this summer that we’ve had out of this whole war, and our numbers are going to spike high.’ Cochran says, on his decision to release ‘Pieces’.

Post Traumatic Stress is causing our veterans to lose jobs, marriages are crumbling, and families are falling apart. The best way to avoid this is to educate the families and have veterans get together.

“We cannot train these families after we come home because the damage is already done when you get them home for 6 to 12 months. We have to start training the families before they come. Before anyone else comes home, we’ve got to sit and let them know – or show them – this is what it might be like some day. But you have to understand, you’ve got to just realize, ‘that is not meant for me. That is pain. That’s not meant for me’,” insists Cochran.

Stephen Cochran has known that he was going to have a career in music since High School. While in College at Western Kentucky University, he signed a development deal with Epic Records. However, after 9/11 in 2001, Cochran decided to put his career on hold and joined the U.S. Marine Corps. His service as a combat Marine in Iraq and Afghanistan would impact his life more than he could have imagined as the young, starry-eyed musician signing up to do his ‘patriotic duty.’

Cochran was injured while on combat patrol. He was sent home with a broken back and his legs paralyzed and was told he would never walk again. That may seem hard to believe, for anyone who has ever seen him jump all over the stage at one of his shows. He spent nine months in a wheelchair, then one day the VA Research and Development Department asked if he was willing to be a volunteer for an experimental procedure called Kyphoplasty. So the experiment worked and he was on the road to recovery., (at least physically). After some serious rehabilitation, he was not only able to walk again but jump all over the stage.

As soon as Cochran was able, he put the focus back on his music. He began performing with the Muzik Mafia around Nashville. Vinny Hickerson, Cochran and some other songwriters formed a writers group and everything was looking up. Eventually, his music led him to work with the military and in 2007, he began Armed Forces tours of the Middle East, benefit appearances on behalf of the veterans and anything he could do to support veterans. His appearance on ABC’s Good Morning America, in support of the second annual ‘Salute To Our Troops’ benefit concert in 2008, garnered some attention. Cochran was asked to be the face
of VA’s Research and Development in 2009. He wrote the theme song ‘Hope’ and did a video that is being used in national campaigns to help veterans. Cochran is now the National Spokesperson for the VA.

“For a long time I tried to separate the platform of being an advocate and my music. I think over this past year, I’ve realized that I have been given a platform to do this for a reason. And I am a veteran and I am a Marine. I don’t need to hide that or keep that separate, it needs to be one,” says Cochran. “And that’s what I am trying to do with this ‘comeback’ to music. It is the first time in a year that we’ve released music, it is our comeback to Country radio, I guess. CMT, GAC and TCN
especially have been really accepting of this video, so we are hoping that we can just touch some veterans.”

Story by Krys Spain Midgett @Copyright 2012

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