In the course of his decade-long career, musician John Mayer has sold over ten million albums, won seven Grammy awards, and received immense critical and popular success. In recent years, he has also dedicated himself to the cause of helping Veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan readjust to life after deployment. In 2009, he began a partnership with NCIRE, bringing live music to Veterans around the country and direct-ing a portion of his concert ticket sales to support Veterans health research.
His interest in the experience of military service members has focused on understanding the psychological challenges associated with return and readjustment from combat service. “Thousands of Americans have returned to the US, many of them with a large proportion of their living years ahead of them, and many thousands more will continue to return from combat in the coming months,” says Mayer. “We know who they are, where they are, and what they will need.”
In addition to welcoming service members backstage to chat, sending care packages overseas and drawing fans’ attention to stigmatized Veterans health issues, Mayer has become deeply engaged in both the scientific advances and the barriers to care for Veterans carrying the wounds of war. “Seeing to it that we care for our returning Veterans is quite possibly our biggest collective duty as a nation,” says Mayer. “We know what challenges lay ahead, and we know very well the nature of them.”
His newest contribution to the collaboration is his support for the Veterans Health and Integration Program (VHIP), a civilian/military partnership designed to provide support to military personnel transitioning from combat duty to civilian life. Behavioral health clinicians and researchers at NCIRE will develop new fitness and integrative medicine interventions, support contemporary health and nutrition resources, and create novel military acculturation services. “I have met some of the brightest minds in the country at NCIRE and they’re extremely well prepared to offer every resource known and as-yet-unknown to science and research,” Mayer says of the partnership.
As he has become increasingly fluent in the technical details of mental health research, Mayer has helped NCIRE establish a national platform for collaboration and communication in the field of Veterans health. “John is a terrific person to work with,” says Robert Obana, NCIRE Executive Director. “He has demonstrated a consistent and humble interest in the men and women who defend our country, and he also has a remarkably clear understanding of the scientific advances and challenges. He knows how the science fits into the bigger mission of caring for Veterans. We could not have asked for a more thoughtful and inquisitive partner.”
Mayer sees his interest and contribution as a duty to those who have served in the US Armed Forces. “Our part as Americans who have not seen war is to go deeper than the 24-hour news cycle or the fashion of culture when it comes to Veteran’s health. We must put forth a consistent, long term effort to see to it that the word “Veteran” is associated with only the very best that life has to offer. NCIRE has committed to setting a global precedent in returning Veterans’ care, and I am committed to NCIRE.”