Jon Bon Jovi Honors Vets with New Song on Doc About PTSD

CBS News
November 11, 2019 - 11:00 am

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Grammy Award winner and philanthropist Jon Bon Jovi is honoring veterans and their service with his new song, "Unbroken." Bon Jovi wrote the anthem for the new documentary "To Be of Service," about veterans who live with PTSD, and the service animals who help them heal.

To hear Jon Bon Jovi's "Unbroken," click on the video player below:

Appearing on "CBS This Morning" Monday, Bon Jovi said he wrote the song from the perspective of a service member. "It was going to be a difficult task because I hadn't served in the military," he said.

His goal in penning the song, he said, was honesty: "You have to be honest if you're going to take on this task, and be truthful in its delivery, so that men and women who did serve will feel a pride when they hear this song.

"So, I talked to the director prior to his having the cut put together. He gave me some key anecdotal lines the soldiers had discussed with him." The lyrics include:

It's eighteen months now, I've been stateside
With this medal on my chest
But there are things I can't remember
And there are things I won't forget
I lie awake at night
With dreams that devils shouldn't see
I wanna scream, but I can't breathe
And Christ, I'm sweatin' through these sheets
Where's my brothers? Where's my country?
Where's my "how things used to be"?

Co-host Gayle King said, "Twenty-two people a day die from suicide who are veterans. But the thing that got me in the doc, all of them said they would do it all again. That's what you said in your song, too."

"I was trying to find hope at the end of the journey here," Bon Jovi said. "And to think that each of these men and women said the one thing is, that I would do it all again, when you're making a record, usually you end it with the chorus. In this case, it was such a powerful line that while we were recording it, we said, no, this is the end of the song. The journey ends here, with the positivity."

For the next 12 months, all proceeds from the song will go to the Patriotic Service Dog Foundation. The non-profit provides highly-trained service dogs to veterans in need, at no cost.

Co-host Tony Dokoupil asked, "The Department of Veterans Affairs supports veterans with PTSD, but does not actually support funding of service dogs for those veterans with PTSD. Do you think the government's doing enough?"

"Well, I think that they're doing their surveys to make sure that the training is done properly," Bon Jovi replied. "My education, obviously, is on the first page of the book. But what I've been led to believe is that the process is, again, going through Congress to try to get a bill passed so that the government will support this."

Although Bon Jovi himself is not a veteran, both of his parents were. "My mom and dad met in the Marine Corps, which I think is pretty neat. My mom was a Marine, and she wasn't afraid of boot camp."

And how did that influence his upbringing? "Service was always important; my parents taught us that. And although I didn't serve, my three best buddies — there were four of us in high school — we all got the call. I had a belief that I was going to be doing what I do; the other three guys joined the Navy. That's where we come from."

Bon Jovi's foundation has partnered with Help USA to support the new Walter Reed Veterans Apartments, 77 units of affordable housing for vets with services all under one roof. "They can get any kind of medical, legal advice, there's job opportunities, all [together]," he said.

Among other initiatives, Bon Jovi donated $1 million to victims of Hurricane Katrina, and his JBJ Soul Foundation has also supported a Soul Kitchen in Red Bank, New Jersey, to address food insecurity for residents in need.

"I think philanthropy is your middle name," said King. "You have the gene that you want to give back, and you want to help people."

"I don't need the scientists to find the cure in these cases!" Bon Jovi said. "It takes a little bit of money, a lot of sweat, and that's what we do with the soul kitchens."

And despite its title, he characterized his forthcoming album, "Bon Jovi: 2020," as a socially conscious record, not a political one. King asked, "What's the difference?"

He replied, "I take no sides. There are songs on this forthcoming record that address guns. There's the atmosphere in Washington. There's soldiers with PTSD. That's a very different record than 'You Give Love a Bad Name.' But I don't take sides. Because look, we all are entitled to our opinions, right? So that's what America is. We're supposed to govern all Americans together and represent all together. And I think this record does that. But it is obvious in what I'm speaking to."

But with an album wryly titled "2020," in an election year, is he thinking of getting into the race?

"No," he smiled.  "Somebody asked as a joke, they said to President Clinton and [myself], 'Whose job was better?' I said mine. He said, 'Why do you say that?' I said, 'I got to keep the house and the airplane!'"

To view a trailer for the documentary "To Be of Service," click on the video player below:

"To Be of Service" (First Run Features) is currently available on Netflix. You can see a trailer by CLICKING HERE.