Country musician Craig Morgan often chats with troops at shows for servicemen overseas, and some of his closest friends are those he met when he was a U.S. Army soldier.
Now he's speaking for troops who are silently struggling with combat stress.
Morgan is the new spokesman for Not Alone, an online-based program that offers confidential counseling and support for soldiers and families dealing with depression, stress and post-traumatic stress disorder.
"It deals with a subject that is really sensitive to the military," Morgan said in a recent phone interview with The Associated Press from Las Vegas, where he was touring with Carrie Underwood. "It's difficult sometimes for a soldier to discuss his frustrations or his lack of understanding of what it is that he's going through."
Started in 2008, Not Alone provides blogs, forums, testimonies and online group sessions. It also has a partnership with Centerstone, a behavioral health care nonprofit, to provide free face-to-face counseling.
"When you wake up every morning, knowing that you're going to go out and patrol an area where there's a good chance you're going to be blown up or shot, that's a lot of stress," Morgan said. "It's a lot to deal with."
Jeff Searcy, the program's executive director, said veterans and soldiers are looking for help from others who have similar experiences after returning from Iraq or Afghanistan. And they will listen when another veteran tells them to get help, Searcy said.
"I think not only will they listen to his music, they will listen to his message," he said.
"I consider myself very fortunate to have been able to serve as long as I did," he said. "So it's a big part of my life."
Morgan has played overseas for troops almost every year for the past eight years, and some of those soldiers return to see him play in the U.S.
"Without fail at every show, someone comes up and says, 'I've seen you in Baghdad,' and it's an awesome thing to see them back at home," he said.
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