By Phil Briggs
In his own life, rock guitar legend Joe Walsh has dealt with — and overcome — addiction.
That experience, he says, creates within him a sense of urgency to help others — particularly the many Americans these days addicted to opioids.
“There’s an emergency about addiction,” he tells ConnectingVets.com — an emergency that includes some veterans hooked while being treated for combat injuries.
“There are prescription drugs that are prescribed to you for pain,” says Walsh, “but when that runs out, you have a dependency on the prescription drugs — and there’s no program in place to help you recover from that.”
“It’s so hard to ask for help,” Walsh adds. “The phone can weigh 40 pounds, if you’re going to pick it up and call somebody and ask for help…but that’s the first step in recovery. We need resources like that, to help the vets. Because when you don’t know where help is, your only option is more drugs.”
Walsh’s father died on active military duty when the musician was just a toddler. He says that experience — and his own struggles to pull himself from addiction — have led him to want to help military veterans facing challenges associated with transitioning back to civilian life.
His desire has led him to create what he hopes will be a series of concerts raising money for charity groups he and his newly-formed VetsAid Foundation have researched and found to be doing good work.
The first concert — featuring Walsh, Keith Urban, the Zac Brown Band and Gary Clark, Jr.– is set to take place Sept. 20 at the EagleBank Arena, just outside Washington, D.C. (Click here for more on Vets Aid.)
Among the groups set to receive money from Vets Aid are Operation Mend, Hire Heroes, Warrior Canine Connection, TAPS, the Semper Fi Fund, the Children of Fallen Patriots Foundation, Stop Soldier Suicide, and Swords to Plowshares.
Walsh says he hopes to both raise money for groups helping vets, and to offer inspiration to those who have served, but now feel overwhelmed.
“I’m sure there’s people out there who think it’s too high a mountain to climb,” he says, of getting one’s life on track. “But I’m telling ya, it isn’t.”