Musical Duffle Bags is Donnie Isaacs' way of helping vets cope with PTS

Julia LeDoux
June 21, 2019 - 12:34 pm
Donnie Isaacs in Afghanistan

Photo courtesy Donnie Isaacs

When Army veteran Donnie Isaacs was serving in Afghanistan, he brought his “battle buddy” along with him.

Isaacs’ battle buddy wasn’t a fellow soldier like most battle buddies are. Instead, it was made of wood, had strings and when played, improved morale.

“I just happened to be lucky enough to have a guitar there,” he said.

When he wasn't fighting the Taliban, he says fellow soldiers encouraged him to play music. And play music he did.

“I was reluctant at first,” he said. “It just sort of grew to what it is today.”

What it is, is a burgeoning country music career. Issacs, a native of Kentucky recently released his five-song debut EP “Duffle Bags” with help from the Center for American Military Opportunities (CAMMO)

He says he didn’t name the EP “Duffle Bags” by chance. Anyone who’s ever been in the military knows all about the bags, which can be packed with nearly every item imaginable.

“My biggest memory is of those duffle bags,” he said. “They were so heavy. Everybody who has ever served immediately picks up on that.”

Isaacs singing
Photo courtesy Donnie Isaacs

For Issacs, duffle bags can also be symbolic of the after-effects of war that one continues to carry with them. 

“Everyone who serves, that includes police, firemen, first responders, suffers from PTSD,” he said. “We just need to understand it more.”

Music – writing it and playing it – has helped Isaacs cope with such issues.

“It’s therapy,” he said. “The words are just on paper. I take it one step further and apply music to it.”

In addition to the messages woven throughout his music, Issacs wants fellow veterans who are coping with PTS to know they are not alone. 

“There are other people out there. We can get through this together.”

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