Custer native creates Songs 4 Soldiers

June 17, 2013

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By Rob Alway, Editor-in-Chief.

There are a lot of basic necessities our soldiers are in need of while serving in Afghanistan. Though music is not a need, it certainly is something that helps with morale. Last year, while managing some bands in Las Vegas where he now lives, Custer Township native Eric Pehrson came up with the idea of sending CDs to the soldiers.

“My brother, Brian, has served in the Army since 2000. He has spent a couple tours in Afghanistan and talked many times about how the soldiers there can never get enough music.

“There are massive periods of pure boredom, a lot of it very mundane. The soldiers are always trying to find ways to kill time. Music seems to really help fill those gaps.”

Last year on Veterans’ Day, Nov. 11, Eric started Songs 4 Soldiers (Songs for Soldiers).

“When I originally started, I thought it would just be a little Christmas project. I wanted to send out 10 packages of three CDs each.”

That little project has been on-going since, Eric has sent out nearly 390 CDs to soldiers since that time.

The CDs are from bands that are not necessarily on the national scene, but rather “local” bands.

Each package includes a thank you note from Eric, telling the soldiers how much they are appreciated. He also includes biographies of each of the bands featured in the package.

“Obviously the purpose is for the soldiers to have music, but my hope is that there are some benefits for the bands as well. Hopefully after hearing the music the soldiers will tell their friends and family and buy more of those bands’ music.”

To date, there have been CDs from 21 bands and 28 packages have been sent out. Each package costs about $5, which is mostly paid for out of Eric’s own pocket. He is working on creating a non-profit organization and has been talking with more bands and even record labels.

“I just got my first two record labels,” he said. “One, based out of Las Vegas, just dropped off a box of CDs with a copy of every CD they have in their catalog. The other record label is from Florida and will also be providing us with a supply of music.”

Eric, 33, is a 1997 graduate of Mason County Central High School and a graduate of Western Michigan University. After college he moved to Las Vegas and started working in spa management. He later moved to Chicago and then back to Las Vegas. He said Songs 4 Soldiers is taking up more and more of his time and he would like to shift his career to that endeavor.

He has been using social networking sites Facebook and Twitter to help promote Songs for Soldiers. Through those sites, and through word of mouth by soldiers, he is building a national support network.

“The reception of this has been great by the soldiers and the bands,” he said. One of the biggest challenges has been getting names and addresses of soldiers.

“In the past you could send packages out without specific recipients, but those rules have changed. Now you have to send them to specific soldiers.”

Eric said there are web services that soldiers can voluntarily place their names and addresses on. One of those is www.anysoldier.com, which has a list of about 3,000 names. Many of the lists are soldiers representing whole companies.

More information about Songs 4 Soldiers can be found at www.facebook.com/songs4soldiers or www.twitter.com/songs4soldiers_.

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