Music was Matt Walker’s first love. At the age of 15, he knew it was a passion he wanted to pursue.

“For all these years I thought that I would go out there, start doing music and make an album and someone would hand me a million dollars,” Matt said. “It wasn’t like that.”

Realizing music was not going to provide in the ways he imagined, Matt made the decision to join the U.S. Army when he was just 17. He worked as a mechanic and in chemical equipment repair during his service. Matt’s service in the Army was at times rewarding, but at times really challenging.

As a Black man, Matt was pleasantly surprised with the way he was treated in the service, as opposed to how the world sometimes saw him at that time.

“Society was a little bit behind the military’s acceptance of Black people,” Matt said.
“I think it’s interesting that the military is a thing in the United States that sort of bound Black and white people together, even with all of our differences.”

When the hardships came during his service, Matt leaned on his music. He was even more grateful that he was able to create and share his thoughts with people, because he felt his story was told; that his voice was heard. Matt knows that was an opportunity many people do not get.

“I got into music not knowing that it would be therapeutic for me and a release of whatever fears and doubts and confusion,” Matt said. “I can put it all into a song … and I can grow from it.”

Just a few years ago, Matt discovered the term “music therapy.” He had always put his emotions into songs and felt relief. But through his local U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs medical center, he was able to really understand how this process had helped him through the toughest of times.

In 2018, he was encouraged to share his talent of rapping in the local Veterans Creative Arts Festival. He won at the local level in his category and was able to attend the national Festival, where he found a community of veterans and dedicated volunteers.

“This is way more amazing than I ever thought it would be,” Matt said.

“I knew that there was a ‘why’ for this Festival; I began to search and talk to different people, like the volunteers from the American Legion Auxiliary, to figure out why they are so dedicated to this program. Everybody is so nice and so helpful, and people donate to make this happen and I’m just so fascinated by why.”

Because of #GivingTuesday, Matt Walker’s voice was heard at the National Veterans Creative Arts Festival. Give to support veterans like Matt and share your “why” with us on social media!