Nine veterans and their guests were honored when Carolina Country Music Fest and Visit Myrtle Beach partnered with DAV to recognize personal victories by veterans. Each veteran attending has conquered challenges related to their military service, are an inspiration to other veterans and still serve the veteran community. (Photos courtesy of CCMF)

DAV members honored through partnership with Carolina Country Music Fest, Visit Myrtle Beach

In 1996, retired Marine Jason Barbieri was in a dark place. His life was spiraling out of control. He didn’t feel safe anywhere and couldn’t hold down a job. Interpersonal relationships were largely nonexistent.

At one point, he strongly considered suicide.

Barbieri finally sought DAV’s services and was connected to the mental health treatment he had earned. He overcame many personal battles and is now a resource for fellow veterans experiencing similar challenges.

“When I got back from service, I was feeling disconnected, disillusioned and misunderstood,” Barbieri said. “For a long, long time I was lost. DAV got me involved in finding a job, getting the counseling I needed and staying motivated. They were the ones on the other side of the phone when I didn’t think I could make it. They never gave up on me.

“My victory was loving myself and finding a reason to smile,” he added.

In June, Barbieri and eight other disabled veterans, each of whom has overcome a life-changing illness or injury and continues to lead a life of service for fellow veterans, were honored at Carolina Country Music Fest (CCMF) thanks to a partnership between the South Carolina-based festival, Visit Myrtle Beach and DAV.

The veterans were recognized on stage and cheered on by more than 20,000 country music fans.

“Thank you for the amazing experience and allowing me to share my story,” said Wade Spann, who was one of the nine disabled veterans honored at the event. “The festival was truly an inspiring time for me to share and feel welcomed by a community. I look forward to continuing to assist veterans through DAV.”

Festival organizers said that honoring the veteran community naturally fit with the event, which is the East Coast’s largest three-day outdoor country music festival. This year’s artists included Toby Keith, Zac Brown Band, Colt Ford, Craig Morgan and Old Dominion.

“Watching this group of heroes receive the DAV Victory for Veterans Award on stage was an amazing experience,” said Bob Durkin, president of CCMF. “Each of their stories reminds us of the true sacrifices our veterans have made to allow us to be free. We are blessed with the opportunity to use CCMF’s platform for good, and honoring the sacrifices of our nation’s veterans through our partnership with DAV was a true privilege. These men and women deserve nothing less than our complete respect and admiration.”