Songs & Stories for Soldiers

Noted author and radio personality, Dan Perkins, launched the project to help active duty military and fellow veterans to cope with their experiences.

NORTHAMPTON, [April 7, 2016} – Patients at the Northampton Veterans Affairs Medical Center received an unexpected surprise Wednesday when volunteers from The Salvation Army arrived with a gift. Through a partnership with Songs and Stories for Soldiers, each of the veterans received an mp3 player, pre-loaded with audio books and music.

“We know the price every active duty member of the armed forces pays. We want them to know we are working to do something for them,” said Dan Perkins, who launched the project. “By providing this customizable mp3 player, veterans wounded on duty will have soothing songs, stories, and their own type of music that they enjoy. While not an answer to all their needs, it is something we can do to remind them that someone cares.”

A group of volunteers with the Northampton Salvation Army Service Unit helped to distribute packages to the veterans, which included ear buds, a charger and a USB device which will allow them to download additional audio files from In total, 250 mp3 players were provided for the patients served at the hospital complex. In total, Songs and Stories for Soldiers distributed over 4,000 mp3 players last year at 25 medical facilities that serve active duty military and veterans.


L to R Nurse Executive Maria Robinson Mclaughlin, Robert Guyette,  Don Fortin and Wil Leslie, Service Unit Director

The veterans in Northampton varied in age and familiarity with mp3 players. Robert Guyette was a machine gunner with the Marine Delta Company First Battallion in Vietnam. “My kids all have them. My grandchildren have mp3 players. I think even my great granddaughter has one, but this if my first.”

Another Marine veteran, Don Fortin, chimes in, “Don’t worry old-timer. We will help you figure it out. It’s really easy.” Fortin serves as the Ward 8 president at the Medical Center after two tours and extensive travel in the 31st Marines fighting piracy and human trafficking. “Music can remind you of a lot of pain, but can also remind you of the good feelings that come along with that too.” Fortin continued, “It’s going to touch the guys. We appreciate all of the support.”

Salvation Army volunteer, Michael Mew served in Vietnam himself. When he surmised that one of the mp3 recipients was about the same age, he asked if he had served in Vietnam, too. Billy said “Yes. And welcome home.” Mew and Billy chatted about their experiences and the connection was immediate between these two veterans who had never previously met.


Wil Leslie shows Steve Ware how to use his brand new mp3 player.

Nurse Executive Maria Robinson-McLaughlin is still on active duty as a reservist. “I’ll be taking this with me when I fly out tonight to Charleston.” Robinson-McLaughlin has been serving for decades. “I remember in desert storm, we were given Walkmans that we could listen to. Having that comfort when you’re so far from home was wonderful.”

Later this month, The Salvation Army plans to distribute an additional 250 mp3 players at the Brockton Campus of the Veterans Administration Boston Healthcare System.

About The Salvation Army

Whether it is shelter for a displaced family or a warm cup of coffee for our brave first responders – hope and healing is the message of The Salvation Army. Since 1865, The Salvation Army has been providing social and spiritual services to communities throughout the world. People given purpose, hearts given hope and souls finding redemption – this has been our mission for more than a century.

About Songs and Stories for Soldiers

Songs and Stories for Soldiers is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation dedicated to providing free, customizable electronic entertainment for members of the American Military, both active and retired. We will be providing MP3 players, with headsets and USB connection cable or the most recent technology, free to American Military. We will start with active duty wounded, and as their needs are met we will branch out to Veterans and VA hospitals across the United States.

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