Marine Corps Veteran Turns Setbacks into Hope Thru his Country Music

Contributed by Brandon S. Baker

Fall is here again and there’s time to think about all the things we’ve loved and lost in our lives. Friends, relationships, bygone eras. Being a native Tennessean, country music has been a constant in my life. It’s always in the background whether you’re listening to it or not. With an influx of outsiders over the past decade, it seems like we’ve lost the essence of what real country is. It hasn’t just been a loss for those of us here close to the epicenter, but an American loss. I don’t think I’m the only one that’s noticed. It seems like last year I read about someone walking out during a CMA performance.

In an era when pop artists pass for country artists, it’s refreshing to hear a voice that is country still making music. Enter Stephen Cochran and his new EP American Loser, set to dropping on Veterans Day 2017.

You can hear it in Cochran’s voice when he sings. The first single from the EP, also titled American Loser, chronicles his struggles with life and perceived losses along the way. Cochran is a Marine Corps veteran, serving both in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Not all of his losses were just perceived though. Cochran was injured while in the service. He broke his back and subsequently lost his ability to walk for some time. That little bit of information makes the lyrics to American Loser much more real, especially for many veterans when he sings:

took my chances/and it wound up being me.

Steven Cochran isn’t just a military veteran. The Kentucky native comes from a country music family and has been turning out recordings since at least 2007. While perusing his catalogue, I couldn’t help but hit the little “add to library” button in iTunes. Leave My Country Alone is a gem that someone just trying to make country music could never write. The same goes for Heaven is a Small Town. To be honest that song made me feel like it might be time to pack up and head back home.

It doesn’t stop there either. If you’re a veteran of the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan, you can probably identify with the lyrics of American Loser- even if you weren’t a casualty. Cochran lets us in on his loss of friends, strained relationships, and is very candid about his past use of alcohol and pills.

The truth is that the song is identifiable for a large segment of our generation, not just veterans. We were raised in an era when the prospects for our future seemed so bright. Everything was going right coming out of the 1990’s. Most of us came from stable homes, even if we were raised by a single parent. We were looking at a plethora of job opportunities, and the housing market seemed to be steadily climbing upward. We knew these things could be had. We saw our parents have them.

Then came 9/11. War. Our girlfriends didn’t become our wives. The economy tanked. The prospect of a 30 year career like our dad? Well it just didn’t exist anymore. Quite suddenly a few beers and a muscle relaxer became a full on opioid epidemic. It’s very easy to identify with a line from his single when Cochran sums it up like this:

see I’ve been playing the game/can’t always win

He’s right. We’ve just been playing the game. Sometimes you get dealt poor cards, but you have to play them. If you do, you might find out you weren’t made to work at the same place for 30 years. You might find out that all that loss…well it actually makes for really good country music.

If you like pop country, I don’t think there’s anything here for you. But if you like real, genuine country music you need check out Stephen Cochran and the American Loser EP. It might just help you rethink your life and regain some hope in country artists.


Landmark Life Coaching’s ( Mission is to honorably and respectfully serve courageous groundbreakers and transitioning veterans to persevere in defining and executing their future by providing an atmosphere of comradery and trust that honors their dedication and commitment. This will empower our clients to feel whole, honored, respected and fulfilled in defining and living their life purpose.

Charlie Mike Podcast ( is where our Nations Combat Veteranpreneur’s talk about how they transformed their combat experience into a groundbreaking entrepreneurial success. We will discuss their experience in relation to what I have defined as their VisualReality; their personal vision of building a successful business leveraging their combat experience to bring the core strengths of a combat veteran into the entrepreneurial realm.

Dwayne Paro - Veterans Coach/Podcaster/Speaker/Writer

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