New Directions Veterans Choir uses healing power of music to help veterans overcome homelessness

Ashley Mackey Image
Sunday, October 8, 2023
New Directions Veterans Choir uses healing power of music to help vets
One song at a time, the New Directions Veterans Choir is in tune to help remove veterans from at-risk situations and offer them a second chance in life.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- A local choir is changing the lives of veterans who have experienced homelessness. One song at a time, they've removed veterans from at-risk situations and have offered them a second chance in life.

It was 25 years ago that George Hill says he founded the New Directions Veterans Choir. It's a nonprofit organization with the mission to help homeless and at-risk veterans live a better life.

Hill says that's exactly what the choir did for him. He spent 12 years on the streets after serving eight years in the U.S. Marine Corps.

"I know that I surely wouldn't be here had it not been for New Directions and the Veteran's Administration. Period," said Hill. "I'm going to do everything I can to make sure to give back to the veterans that are coming."

Carleton Griffin, who's been singing with the group since 2000, said the choir turned his life around. The Vietnam Navy veteran served three tours but struggled after, living on the streets for over 25 years.

Now, he sings with the group as much as possible; performing with them at weddings, universities, and so much more. The choir is currently practicing for New Directions' annual gala.

"The choir performs each year at the gala. People love listening to the choir, I'm a huge fan myself and they do an amazing job," said Christopher Crowley, the director of development for New Directions. "They really showcase what you're able to do if you're in the right situation with the right people."

The group is primarily made up of formerly homeless veterans and they hope to reach more, one song at a time.

"One time, we sang at one concert and a veteran came up to us crying and said, 'You know, this is the first positive thing I've seen since they've come back,'" said Michelle Mayne-Graves, a registered nurse at a local VA hospital and member of New Directions.

The gala is taking place on Nov. 10 and is open to the public.

Tickets and tables can be purchased by visiting the New Directions website. All of the proceeds go directly to benefitting the group's mission of improving the lives of veterans.