Brantley Gilbert Receives Purple Heart From Wounded Army Veteran
Brantley Gilbert has received quite a few platinum album plaques and CMA and ACM Awards, but we've got a feeling the gift that Army veteran Justin Patterson gave him last month tops every last one of them.
Over Memorial Day weekend, Gilbert spent time on a motorcycle ride with Patterson and other vets, and while the former Army sniper didn't know who Gilbert was before the ride, he tells KHOU that when you "take the music away, he's one of the guys. He fell into the pack with us."
At various stops throughout the ride, Gilbert performed and spoke to his audiences about the problems that returning war veterans face, including PTSD.
"You know, the fact is that 22 veterans a day take their own lives. And that's just heartbreaking," Patterson explains. "I get goosebumps just talking about it. But there's just not enough help out there. You know, for this guy to take time out of his tour and put his two cents in went a long way."
Patterson was so impressed with Gilbert's actions that he wanted to do something special to thank the "One Hell of an Amen" singer for his work -- so, Patterson gave Gilbert his first Purple Heart.
"And the guy that's got everything, I think the only thing I could give him was my blood, sweat and tears," Patterson says. "... I couldn't write him a country song or give him a Grammy, but to say thank you, for me, it was easy. It was an easy decision to pull the trigger on that."
You can watch the incredible moment in the video above. Gilbert looks absolutely floored, and both he and Patterson appear to be holding back tears.
"This thing means the world to me," Gilbert says. "And I found a lifelong friend named Justin Patterson."
Patterson say that he and Gilbert talk or text almost every day now. The vet served five tours of duty while in the Army -- five years in Iraq and two in Afghanistan -- and won four Bronze Stars and three Purple Hearts. However, in 2008, the vehicle he was riding in was blown up by a roadside bomb, and Patterson returned home with a traumatic brain injury. He now works with the Wounded Warrior Project, participating in motorcycle rides like the one he was on with Gilbert.
"It's therapeutic," Patterson explains. "You hop on a bike, and everything else clears up."
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