Help a Vet Dream Big

Buddy Lee Twilight

Hello, my names is Melvin “Buddy” Lee Dobberteen. I grew up in a rundown house in small town in rural Michigan. I spent most my childhood being bullied and put down, so I found sanctuary in the outdoors and music. After the deaths of my sister, grandparents, and best friend, I fell apart. I spent the next several years searching for my place in the world.  In September 2001, I answered the nation’s call and joined the United States Marine Corps and within a year and a half, I was headed to Iraq.


War quickly became real. Constant barrages of artillery, IEDs, enemy gunfire, and lack of sleep, all created a surreal environment. During my 3 tours of duty I saw things no human should ever see, and I did things no human should ever have to do, all in the name of service to my country. During an intense operation to take the city of Nasiriya, Iraq, I suffered massive head trauma. I was sent to a field hospital and eventually shipped back to the States to receive more care. Life, as I knew it, was over.


The aftermath of the injury has been terrible. I have severe memory issues, legal blindness, back and joint problems, and my life has turned into a nightmare. I have even wanted to die more than once since returning.  I got married in 2005 to my beautiful wife, Tiara. I treated her like she was a junior marine. I acted out with pills and alcohol and I spiraled down in a dark bottomless pit. My daily prayer became, “Lord, please send someone to kill me. I can’t take this pain.”


In 2007, I met the guys from Voices of a Grateful Nation, which is Now Soldier Songs and Voices, and met Craig Hillis, Dustin Welch, and Michael Christman. These men showed me that there truly is something to live for. I kicked the alcohol and pills, and have remained sober since March 18, 2008.  I turned to the outdoors and music, and my wife and I worked hard to let God guide our marriage as he transformed me. In 2016, I went legally blind, surprisingly 13 years after my traumatic brain injury in Iraq. I was devastated! 


Once again, my entire world turned upside down; but this time, instead of going back to my old habits, I turned to music. The songs started to pour out of me. I have written over 140 songs in 7 months. When I get low, I write; when I get happy, I write.  I have learned to write fearlessly and have begun performing around my home in San Antonio, Texas.


I met Grant Johnson a music producer at a retreat for veterans in 2017, and now I need financial help to record an album of my songs. It will cost $1500 to finish producing the album, but I would really like $2500, total, to be able to create a music video too. I feel my songs will resonate with people from all walks of life because each of us has experienced pain and hardship and found a reason to keep going.  After the Album is done. We will donate 1/3 of the profits to help fund PTSD rehabilitations programs. Thank you for taking the time to read my story.
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Buddy Lee Dobberteen 
New Braunfels, TX
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