U.S. Navy Medic “Doc” Oliver Finds Solace from PTSD with Songwriting

Therapy for Doc Oliver is sitting in his garage with a guitar, a pen and paper, and working on a song. He has quite a bit to write about. The Central-California based Americana singer/songwriter served almost 2 years in Afghanistan with the U.S. Marine Corps as his team’s Combat Medic. He earned the nickname “Doc” from stitching-up wounded soldiers and civilians alike. Following a severe mass casualty incident in 2012 he was honorably discharged, suffering PTSD after being ambushed, injured by the Taliban, and losing three of his best friends in the event. He uses songwriting as a means of coping with his trauma, and the difficult events he has experienced in his life. 

Videos by American Songwriter

Doc now lives in Santa Barbara, CA with his wife and three children, working as an armed guard at a nuclear power plant. He struggles emotionally reliving some of his experiences as he arms himself for his job which, ultimately, led him to turn to music. “My songs are strictly an outlet. My wife gave me permission to go in the garage, drink beer, and write songs…and just to have an outlet for everything I’ve been going through,” Oliver notes. “I didn’t like individual or group therapy, everyone’s different, but I have this ability to play guitar and write, and that’s helped me process some heavy things and try to heal.”

Featured in a new video from LR Baggs, Oliver shares the story behind his original song, “Helmand,” which is about a kid that came up to him that was severely injured while in Afghanistan. 

Kids come running down a rocky dirt road
Not wearing anything to cover their feet
They ask us for water and something to eat 
So we give em what we could and then we pushed on 

After releasing an EP and a full-length record in 2020, Doc began realizing that not only was he healing his own wounds, but he was healing the wounds of others. Though Oliver was in the military, his music is relatable not only to the veteran community, but so many more. 

Lloyd Baggs of LR Baggs was an early advocate, tapping him for the company’s prestigious “LR Baggs Presents” series. When they first met at a concert they spoke about music and the military, Baggs recounts, “Doc sent me a link to a few of his songs the next day, but there was no way I was prepared for what I was about to hear. Within minutes I knew that I was personally going to do everything I could to help him bring his beautifully raw, poignant songs to a much wider audience. After hearing his songs, I hope others will be compelled as I now am to help Doc reach other brave soldiers with PTSD and stitch their lives back together with his moving music.”

Oliver is currently working on new music, with a projected release date of a forthcoming single in late October.

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