Operation Song, Episode 3: With Operation Song's Help, a Vietnam Veteran Begins to Heal
Jerry Harris was drafted into the army when he was 19 years old in 1968. Within a few months he was in Viet Nam. From the moment he left the plane he was traumatized. Almost immediately he began developing an alter ego, a separate identity he called “Old Jerry.” He spent the rest of the year he was in Viet Nam sublimating his emotions. It’s only in the past decade that’s he been able to talk about his experience in the war. He has 100% PTSD – a life-long condition—but with the help of a UTC English professor he began writing poetry about ten years ago and that, he said, was one step in the incremental process of healing. In the past year he has begun writing songs with the Nashville songwriters Don Good man and Steve Dean as part of the Operation Song program. Jerry Harris, a sensitive, articulate man, was part of the group of men who attended the first Operation Song sessions here in Chattanooga. As Don Goodman remembers it, he was a catalyst in their first meeting.