Brantley Gilbert bleeds red, white and blue.
The music video for “The Ones That Like Me,” the second single off the country singer, songwriter and record producer’s 2017 album “The Devil Don’t Sleep,” opens with an image of an American flag draped down the side of a barn in the middle of a field.
Gilbert, 34, was born in the small town of Jefferson, GA, and it was a near-fatal car accident when he was 19 years old that prompted him to give his all to his music career. He started writing songs in earnest, and his music embraces outlaw country and the heartland. Since releasing his debut album, “Modern Day Prodigal Son,” in 2009, he’s had six No. 1 singles: “Country Must Be Country Wide,” “You Don’t Know Her Like I Do,” “Dirt Road Anthem,” “My Kinda Party,” “Bottoms Up” and “One Helluva Amen.” Gilbert is supporting “The Devil Don’t Sleep” with The Ones That Like Me tour, which kicked off February 2 in Worcester, MA.
“I want to call [the tour] something that speaks to what this tour is,” Gilbert announced before the first stop of the tour. “A chance for me to get together with all the people out there who get this music, who believe in these songs and live their lives just like the people back home do. We are all proud Americans who try to stand up and do the right thing.”
To support that statement of doing the “right thing,” Gilbert has partnered with PEDIGREE to assist U.S. veterans who are trying to cope with life after serving the country. Together, the pet food brand and Gilbert are saluting those who have served by giving companion dogs to eight veterans throughout stops on the spring leg of his tour.
“You know, if I wasn’t doing what I’m doing now, there’s a good chance that I’d be in the service myself,” Gilbert said. “I’m blessed to be in the situation where I have a platform and the ability to give back. Those men and women give so much, and I’m proud to be a part of helping them when I can.”
Gilbert had multiple conversations with experts on the best way to aid service people who are trying to cope with re-entry.
“Nothing helps heal like an animal’s love,” he said while promoting the partnership. “These dogs aren’t just good dogs, they’re trained to help their veteran — and new companion — cope with stress, memories and triggers people can’t see and provide them with a sense of solid grounding. I am honored that the PEDIGREE brand agreed to be a part of this campaign because it’s something I really wanted to do — and they understand so many of the reasons why this is such a good remedy for these veterans.”
The country music star will present veterans with a companion dog every weekend this spring, but the program started long ago when he and PEDIGREE worked with Custom Canine Unlimited to transport and train all eight dogs, which were recruited by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Each dog has been trained to match the specific needs of their specific veteran, who was identified and selected by Disabled American Veterans. PEDIGREE has agreed to provide the veterans and their companion pet with a one-year supply of PEDIGREE dog food.
“I’ve seen what Custom Canine Unlimited has done with their training,” Gilbert said. “They trained my dog Beau, and they specialize in training service dogs, police dogs, military dogs, etc. Seeing how much a dog can positively impact someone, I wanted to do something to help give back and do my part. I’ve seen the difference a companion animal can make in someone’s life, and there are no words to explain that feeling. I’m so appreciative that the PEDIGREE brand understood and supported my vision for this program. They’re covering the cost for Custom Canine Unlimited to train these companion dogs and providing each one with a year’s supply of food.”
“When we heard about what Brantley wanted to do on his The Ones That Like Me tour to honor veterans, we knew we had to help,” said Elizabeth Barrett, PEDIGREE brand manager for Mars Petcare. “Brantley has distinguished himself as an artist who goes to great lengths to give back to America’s armed forces, and his efforts to provide companion dogs to veterans during this tour align perfectly with the PEDIGREE brand’s Feed the Good campaign, which is based on the insight that dogs and humans benefit each other. Knowing that the PEDIGREE brand can play a part in finding loving homes for these dogs while giving back to those who have served our country is an incredible honor.”
The knowledge that this connection will have a major impact on the lives of eight members of the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force and Coast Guard has a humbling effect on Gilbert.
“These dogs and people are all heroes,” he said. “Seeing the faces of these vets when their dog comes bouncing into the room melts your heart. I know for these families, beyond being the family’s new best friend, these animals are helping heal things for these soldiers in ways nothing else can.
“It’s awesome the PEDIGREE brand would be a part of this dream I had,” Gilbert continued. “They recognized the need for what this is and stepped up to make things happen. This is making a lot of people’s — not just the vet’s — lives better, happier, so many things.”