Charlie Daniels is a man whose handshake is better than a written contract, and when he decided to help veterans returning to their life after service in the military, he put his heart and soul into it. The result is The Journey Home Project, which is a non-profit organization that assists other not-for profits to secure funds to help causes that benefit veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces. Much of the efforts of the organization have been to see that veterans find a way to get the education they need to ensure that they will find jobs once they are back home with their families.
Daniels has not worked alone with The Journey Home Project, and this year at his annual dinner at The Palm restaurant in Nashville, the singer instituted the Charlie Daniels Patriot Award, presented to someone who has honored veterans through the years veterans. Daniels and David Corlew presented the award to a very surprised Chris Young.
“Charlie invited me to come down and be part of the festivities tonight and I gladly said yes,” the singer said. “I had no idea I was going to be the recipient of this award.
“I love the work that Charlie has done, people talk about how incredible his career is, but he is also a hugely philanthropic person. Everything he does for the military means so much to me. I have a lot of military in my family — my sister and brother-in-law were in the marines, but not active duty any more. My grandfather was in the military and a lot of friends. Any time I have a chance to give back is hugely important. I think this is something that gets overlooked a lot, the transition back home for veterans. The fact that it goes to a lot of different organizations who reach out to those veterans to make that transition an easy one and make it easier coming home, means a great deal to me.”
As for Charlie, he says the award goes to people who have a heart for veterans and worked for them over the years. Chris has been a participant in this dinner several times, and obviously has military families close to his heart. He has also made numerous trips overseas to perform for troops in the Middle East, South Korea and Japan.
David Corlew (Charlie’s manager and active participant in the Journey Home Project) came up with the idea for the award and Charlie says they all agreed it would be a great honor for those who have helped them over the years. A second award was given to Nashville businessman and military contributor William Horton.
Charlie’s history with the military goes back to his childhood in North Carolina. “I was five years old when Pearl Harbor happened, and I grew up living that. Everyone there had aunts and uncles, or a father involved somehow, and everyone talked about it.”
Additionally, the North Carolina Shipbuilding Company was close by in Wilmington, and everyone knew that most of the ships and being built there would carry soldiers to fight in World War II. The company’s first ship launched on December 6, 1941, just hours before the attack on Pearl Harbor.
The evening featured performances by Daniels and Young and gave opportunities to bid in a silent auction and in a live one, which got rowdy at times as folks vied for their favorite items. Two of the most popular were custom-made guns and a trip to New York City where former New York City police commissioner Bernard B. Kerik, who was on duty during 9/11, agreed to take folks on a personal walk and share remembrances of that day and its aftermath. All total, more than $200,000 was raised to benefit The Journey Home Project and veterans of the U.S. military. It was the fifth annual event, and the most successful so far.
For more information on the Journey Home Project, check out the organization’s website at thejourneyhomeproject.org. Charlie says there are always volunteer spots for folks who want to get involved with this project, or other worthwhile veterans’ organizations.
(Photo Courtesy Erick Anderson)