Phil Vandel delivers powerful messages with his music. In early 2013, for the Non-Commissioned Officers Association (NCOA) in Texas, Phil re-wrote, recorded, and filmed a video of the Johnny Cash classic song, “Ragged Old Flag.” The NCOA liked the rendition so much, they premiered Vandel’s video at their national conference during July 2013. The video was received with such great reviews, educators across the United States have used the music video in their classroom as a way to teach their students about the history of the American flag.
Phil Vandel is a proud supporter of the U.S. military, and he has donated countless hours performing shows for active, retired, and wounded warriors stationed throughout America and overseas. Phil is an advocate for bringing awareness to the “hush-hush” problem of soldier suicide. He dedicates his efforts to helping soldiers in emotional distress get back to a healthy state of mind.
As a young kid, Phil had major surgery on his wrist. This medical procedure prevented him from doing a flat-handed pushup, which further excluded him from joining the Marine Corps, since he was unable to complete his entry-level physical examination. As part of a strong military family, the inability to join the Marine Corps frustrated him. Since he couldn’t follow in the footsteps of his family, Phil developed a kind of bitterness which he used to distance himself from the military.
Although Phil couldn’t fulfill his initial desires to join the active service, he was able to pursue a successful music career which eventually allowed him to travel full-circle back to the military. After years of being on the road performing for a variety of fans, Phil received an offer to perform for an audience of wounded soldiers. He was introduced to amputees and burn victims. He was awed by the amount of sacrifice a human being is willing to make in the name of freedom and democracy, the very principles we hold so valuable in this country. Phil talked with wounded combat veterans who, despite their tragic stories, still held a light for the future. Phil left this musical performance with a positive message, and the experience changed his purpose for the future.
Phil realized he had found what he was searching for throughout the years. He no longer needed to distance himself from the military. He realized there was a need to address not only the morale of the soldiers on the battlefield, but also the need to raise funding and awareness for various problems and issues faced inside the four branches of the military. Phil became very active with the 091 Foundation, which raised money for I-Bots, the powered wheelchair for wounded soldiers. Phil has since donated his efforts to several causes that help support the military; however, he holds Snowball Express, an organization helping the children of fallen soldiers, close to his heart. He can only imagine what parents keep in the back of their minds when they go off to fight for their children and for future generations. Phil believes if a soldier loses their life because of that, then they should be able to, “look down on us and know their kids are being taken care of, and to continue on some kind of legacy that they left.”
To capture the spirit of Phil’s music, take a moment and listen to, “What Soldiers Do.” The song has received huge acceptance among soldiers in the military, and has also allowed Phil to follow in the footsteps of his family by working with the armed branches of the government.