The Smashing Pumpkins and Easter Seals Come Together on Big Issue


Billy Corgan and COL. David Sutherland on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” talking about veteran issues

Making it happen. Getting it done. Those are traits I admire, and this week they are on full display at Live Nation in an announcement made by Billy Corgan and The Smashing Pumpkins.

Before going any further, I must issue a disclaimer. I hail from the Stevie Ray Vaughn generation. Until two months ago I was not all that familiar with The Smashing Pumpkins, let alone Billy Corgan, the band’s lead singer. Then a colleague from the Teamsters sent me a video of the band’s new single, “Drum + Fife,” with an invitation to speak with Billy after viewing it. The video was awful. And awesome. It epitomizes the suddenness and the sadness of war. Yet the final scene also touches on a hope for future connections and the optimism and opportunities ahead when service members return to their communities.

One week later I was meeting with Billy, who was experiencing what so many civilians go through. He wanted to lend a hand but didn’t know how to start or where to go. Fate brought us together and today, as part of Live Nation’s Summer Concert Series event in New York City, he is announcing a movement to drive awareness about the potential of our veterans and military families. (Or, as I describe it in military-speak, “the greatness in our formations.”) This effort will coincide with The Smashing Pumpkins The End Times tour (with Marilyn Manson), which will begin July 7.

I appreciate Billy’s effort because it encourages action. It’s about igniting fan involvement, action and support of the veteran community in hometowns across the country. It’s about promoting social consciousness and solutions, sharing innovative approaches and connecting those who have served. One way to do this is through local Easter Seals affiliates, who provide services ranging from adult day care, to job training, to camping, recreation and respite programs.


The Smashing Pumpkins tour poster

Billy and I have dubbed this effort “New Beginnings: Reaching America’s Vets.” It’s a play on words of his tour name, The End Times, because coming home should not be the end. It should be a new beginning for these brave, talented men and women.

Keep an eye on Billy Corgan and the Smashing Pumpkins this summer. I’ll be going to my first show in the next few months, and I’m looking forward to putting Billy’s plan into action.

And if you are a veteran or member of a military family, reach out to your local Easter Seals. We might be able to make your transition back into the community a bit smoother with caregiver support, employment skills training and respite services, among others.

If you want to be inspired, buy a ticket to the concert, buy the album, but you must listen to Drum + Fife. Giddy up!


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