It is not every day that someone you once admired (or envied) on a purely aesthetic level fleshes out to be a real person who not only responds graciously to fans, but devotes a considerable amount of his time and energy helping others.
I’m speaking of Kerry Degman, who has since 2007 plied the wares of Abercrombie & Fitch, Braun shavers, and other products, but has more recently demonstrated formidable chops as a country singer, and put both good genes and musical talent to work to raise money and attention for the issue of military suicide.
A few years ago, I commented on something he posted on social media, not really expecting a response, but ended up having a fulfilling, if sporadic, exchange about spirituality and other matters that continues to this day. A recent interview reveals a young man who remains thoughtful and grounded despite being a household face, if not always name (yet).
Degman’s solo debut Red Light, available on iTunes and other outlets, features a cover of the John Denver classic "Take Me Home, Country Roads", but is mostly original material, including the title track, the nostalgic "Home-Grown Tomatoes" and the infectious (pun fully intended) “Stuck In Your Head” (video below):
The album also features a track called “Pray for a Soldier in Pain” which Degman wrote after learning some troubling statistics about suicide among both active duty military and veterans: The Department of Defense reported there were over 100 active duty and reservists who took their own lives in the first quarter of 2014 alone, and veterans kill themselves at a staggering rate of 22 per day.
Degman and Columbus Blue Jackets’ forward Cam Atkinson are the public face of a new (as of this past Friday) nonprofit organization, the Force Network Fund, which promotes public awareness of this issue and funnels donations to thirteen established charities who care for soldiers, veterans, first-response personnel, and their families.
How to HelpIf you are in a position to help financially, please check out Kerry's page (http://joinstarling.com/kerry). There are give-aways and prizes for various contribution levels.
Beyond donations, everyone can help get the word out about FNF and the issue of military/veteran suicide. Degman has a call out to other artists to cover “Soldier in Pain” and repost with the hashtag #sing2serve. Atkinson is challenging other professional athletes, fans, and friends to take and post a patriotic “selfie” on Instagram, tag @camatkinson and use the hashtag #americam.
And of course if you or someone you encounter is experiencing suicidal thoughts, get help! A national hotline 800–273–8255 is one of many resources available.