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Local soldier, musician recalled to Iraq

Mathew Griswold of Woodbury enjoyed playing for local citizens and fellow soldiers while serving in Iraq. He says he hopes to do that again now that he has been recalled. Submitted photo

Military veteran and singer-songwriter Mathew Griswold's dreams of fame and a successful music career have been abruptly put on hold. He has been recalled back into the United States Army for another tour.

Griswold, a Woodbury resident, returned in December after spending five years in the Army in hopes of pursuing his music, but six months later, his plans changed when the unwanted letter arrived in the mail.

"For over two hours it was a roller coaster of thoughts and emotions -- I experienced just about every emotion possible," Griswold said. "You think about it now and then, you hope it doesn't happen, it happens and then it's just a shock."

Griswold was eligible for recall because he has an extended amount of time left on his inactive reserve status.

Griswold's orders say that he could be in for up to an additional 400 days, he will be in Iraq, but nothing about the reasons for the recall.

"There really isn't a huge reason to recall, they're trying to wind down the operations and forces in Iraq anyway," he said. "There's already this huge number of people, so there really isn't a point to bringing more because you'll almost have too many."

Griswold said there is a flurry of thoughts and emotions running through his head because of the suddenness of everything and the unknown.

"I can't say I'm not scared because it's kind of an unknown thing, it's not like I'm going with people I know, it's leaving friends and family to go and be alone," he said. "There's a nervousness but there's a curiosity to it as well because after being away, there is an uncertainty because it's a different perspective from actually seeing it."

The nervousness and disappointment that Griswold feels now, may not be how feels six months from now because once he puts on that army uniform, his mind switches over to that of a U.S. soldier.

"There tends to be a switch, usually you don't develop your opinions or emotions on certain subjects until after --you just sort of zone out," he said. "The way I feel now is very different from the way I'll feel six months from now."

In addition to having to leave friends and family behind for the next year, Griswold is having to abandon the music career that he has worked so hard to achieve. But that isn't going to stop him from letting the creative juices flow.

"You work so hard to get where you're at and then it's pulled out from underneath you," he said. "But, I wrote most of my best stuff the first time I was there -- music was my outlet.

"I'd just be sitting on the cot writing songs or playing, it kept me calm, because no matter what was going on around me, I always had that outlet."

There is a light at the end of the tunnel though for Griswold, after the completion of this tour, that will be the end of his military career.

"No matter what, whenever I come back, that will be it and there is a peace to that," he said. "Nobody really wants to go back, if you got out, you got out for a reason."

Griswold will be bidding farewell and helping other returned soldiers with a benefit concert, TC For Troops, to be held on Memorial Day, May 25, at the Fine Line Music Café in Minneapolis.

During the benefit concert, Griswold, as well as several other local musicians, will be performing to help raise awareness and funding for Veterans for America.

VFA is an organization that helps to fight for veterans rights and raise awareness about the mental traumas that they live with every day.

Griswold said the event will be a bit hard since it is his last concert, but hopefully it will inspire those to think about what our veterans are going through.

"This is a night that I hope goes way beyond any of us performing, or any particular person," he said. "My mission is to forward a token of gratitude to the men and women I once served with by encouraging the need for awareness and the need for a paved road to a better future."

TC For the Troops will be May 25 at the Fine Line Music Café, 318 First Avenue North in Minneapolis, doors open and 7 p.m. and show starts at 8 p.m. The concert will feature performances by Matt Griswold and four other local musicians, Phil Thompson and Joel Kachel of Woodbury, Nichole Peper and Thomas Kivi. Proceeds will benefit Veterans For America. Cost is $5 and free for military.

Amber Kispert-Smith

Amber Kispert-Smith has been the schools and Afton reporter at the Woodbury Bulletin since 2008. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota. She previously worked as a reporter for Press Publications in White Bear Lake.

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