For years I have been a huge fan of the organization SongwritingWith:Soldiers / SW:S and the depth, power and beauty of what they produce. SongwritingWith:Soldiers holds weekend retreats across the U.S. for veterans from all conflicts. Since 2012, we have connected with hundreds of veterans and military families, creating a safe and inspiring environment to share their experiences and write songs with professional songwriters. These songs have been recorded and streamed across the internet, reaching and connecting more veterans and raising civilian awareness of the challenges the military community faces. So… you can only imagine how BEYOND thrilled and honored to have the opportunity to have a conversation with the program director and co-founder Mary Judd. She is a brilliant and down to earth woman, visionary, and trailblazer.
Mary is a master at creating collaborative programs that inspire connections and highlight individual and community strengths. When witnessing Darden Smith write a song with a veteran, she was compelled to put her skills to work in creating the SongwritingWith:Soldiers program.
With vast experience in Positive Psychology, educational programming and organizational communications, Mary helps SW:S create the most effective and meaningful experiences for everyone involved. Her creative reach is reflected in her client list which includes New York State Department of Economic Development (I LOVE NY); MentorCoach training programs; VIA Institute on Character; Indian Ladder Farms: The Mayerson Academy, The HAPPY Movie; Discovery Retreats, and more. She has studied Positive Psychology with leading researchers from around the world, is an international workshop presenter on the subject and was a discussion facilitator at a United Nations meeting on Happiness and Well-Being. She serves on the editorial board for the India Journal of Positive Psychology and PsyInsight magazine. Mary co-founded The Barn School, an award-winning sustainable agriculture camp that raises funds for family farms and Heifer International. She earned coaching certifications from Dr. Martin Seligman of the University of Pennsylvania, MentorCoach and others. She has a B.S. in Organizational Communications from the University of Texas at Austin and teaching certifications in Speech, English and Spanish.
Mary joined me from her home in New York and, as you can imagine, is incredibly busy. I am super grateful for her generosity of time to discuss this treasure of a program that she has poured her heart and soul into. I want to whole world to know about the power and beauty of this program and that post traumatic healing does exist
Make sure you listen to the song at the end of this episode to get a full understanding of the results of this program. It is one of Mary’s favorite’s. The song Strumming hand was written by Maia Sharp and Veteran John Cameron at a performed by Maia Sharp.
If you are inspired by this story, want to learn more about or support SW/S please visit