Country singer Charlie Daniels was a major supporter for veterans most of his life, even helping to establish a veterans center at Middle Tennessee State University. Daniels died Monday at age 83. The "Devil Went Down to Georgia" singer was a member of the County Music Hall of Fame and the Grand Ole Opry.
Daniels served as the chairman of The Journey Home Project and performed for American troops around the world. He often penned patriotic songs, even releasing the 2010 compilation Land That I Love, which was made up entirely of his patriotic songs. The country legend's work for veterans was recognized when he received the Office of the Secretary of Defense Medal for Exceptional Public Service award in 2007. He also received the AmVet Silver Helmet award from AmVets, an organization started by World War II veterans.
Daniels died on Monday after suffering a hemorrhagic stroke, which "occurs when a blood vessel ruptures and blood accumulates in the tissue around the rupture. This puts pressure on the brain and causes a loss of blood to the surrounding areas," according to Healthline. Daniels' family said funeral arrangements would be announced soon. In the meantime, here is a look at some of the ways Daniels has helped veterans over the years.
Daniels and The Journey Home Project teamed up with Code of Vets to help veterans during the coronavirus pandemic.
In April, Daniels and The Journey Home Project teamed up with another non-profit, Code of Vets, to help veterans during the coronavirus pandemic. The goal of the team-up is to make sure veterans are not left behind during this crisis. Before the pandemic, Code of Vets focused on helping veterans with their mental health, unemployment, housing and transportation. "It is no longer business as usual. The urgency of these needs requires all of our resources all of the time and we need more Americans to step up for our veterans as they did for them," Code of Vets Founder Gretchen Smith said.prevnext
Daniels established a veterans center at MTSU
Daniels helped establish the Charlie and Hazel Daniels Veterans and Military Family Center at Middle Tennessee State University in 2015. Following his death, the MTSU administration mourned their loss and recognized his dedication to veterans. "Charlie's support will forever continue and live at MTSU as veterans and their precious military families nationwide seek the transition assistance of the center," retired U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Keith Huber, MTSU senior adviser for veterans and leadership initiatives, said in a statement. "Our prayers are sent to surround the family and friends of our beloved Charlie Daniels, my true friend."prevnext
Daniels called supporting veterans his 'life's work'
Last year, Daniels held his second annual Veteran Impact Celebration, which raised over $150,000 for MTSU's veterans center. At the event, he explained to PopCulture.com why helping veterans was important to him. At the center, they "try to do whatever the veterans need," he explained. "There's a pretty good size veteran population, veteran student population here and we're just trying to help them transition back into civilian life."prevnext
Daniels raised awareness of veteran suicide on Twitter
22 VETERANS COMMIT SUICIDE EVERY DAY!!— Charlie Daniels (@CharlieDaniels) July 5, 2020
Daniels often tweeted about controversial topics, but he also tried to raise awareness of veteran suicide. He often tweeted how 22 veterans take their own lives each day. In fact, there is an organization called Mission 22 dedicated to that cause. In his interview with PopCulture.com last year, Daniels said it was "such a waste of life."
"Why is this happening? There's a lot of people out there and they are trying to find out what's happening, what's causing this and what to do about it, and so we're very supportive of them, but anything to help our veterans," Daniels said at the time.prevnext
Daniels was honored by the Pentagon for his service for veterans
In 2007, Daniels received the Office of the Secretary of Defense Medal for Exceptional Public Service for his tireless support of military veterans. "I remember the day that Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, and I have taken patriotism into my heart, I have taken the military into my heart, and it has been there ever since," Daniels said during the award presentation. "The more I go among the military, the more I am convinced that you folks are the best America’s got." The singer said it was an "honor and privilege" to perform for military servicemembers around the world.prevnext
Daniels also established Operation Heartstrings to provide military members with music equipment while serving0comments
The Journey Home Project is not the only effort Daniels began to help military members. In 2005, he also launched Operation Heartstrings, an effort to bring instruments, albums, DVDs and CD players to members of the military while they are serving to "combat the loneliness and isolation of service in the War on Terror."
"I wish that all Americans could spend just one day among the brave men and women who defend this country in Iraq and Afghanistan," Daniels said after a 2005 trip to perform for troops. "They live in constant danger in dusty, desolate desert camps, wearing body armor in sweltering weather, missing their loved ones. My trip only re-enforced what I already knew. The American forces are the finest in the world. I can't even articulate my love and admiration for them."prev