Recovery through Rap: Soldier Hard
A tattoo of a microphone on Jeff Barillaro a.k.a. Soldier Hard’s arm symbolizes how music has been with him his entire life. He started writing songs at the age of 14. In the Army, he would record rap songs about what he experienced fighting in the Iraq War. Returning home in 2010, he used music to help him adjust back to civilian life. He told NPR music was his therapy; “I’d get so lost into the music, that I actually forgot where I was.”
His music is also therapy to thousands of Servicemembers and their families, who buy his CDs and drive hours to see him in concert. Special Ed teacher Katrina Graves told NPR she discovered Soldier Hard on YouTube when her boyfriend was fighting in Iraq. She kept listening to his song “Military Wife.”
“That’s what I was going through — deployments, homecomings, you know, separation. It showed me other people were going through this, other women were going through this,” Graves said. “It just really touched my heart.”
Soldier Hard’s mission is to represent the Servicemember to the world, and he tours the country and releases new songs often. His new album, scheduled for release this summer, is called Therapy Session.
“It’s amazing how I can put my heart and soul into a project, and actually hearing the music as time goes by,” Soldier Hard writes on his website, “It brings me back to a time and place in my life I’d prefer to forget, but I know there are many troops out there that can relate to it, so I keep spreading our stories in respect for all our troops. They’re the most amazing people in this world.”