Chaplain Bobby Farmer
All Combat Veterans returned home from war changed to some degree, if nothing more than the hard earned realization that war is a horrendous exploitation of the human spirit. Combat Veterans experienced and coped in the expeditionary environment with various forms of adrenalin, fear, stress, and danger. For so many Combat Veterans, their war experiences stood in sharp contrast to the Christian values and norms of society in which they were raised. Many Combat Veterans returned home from war, consciously unprepared to emerge fully back into a society conducting normal peacetime daily routines, while others felt unable to share their combat inflictions with family or friends not encumbered or exposed to similar experiences.
The purpose of the NEPC Combat Veterans Support Group is to provide Combat Veterans a safe venue to establish comradeship with other Combat Veterans, a forum for sharing combat experiences; to provide an avenue to facilitate the easing of internal pain lingering in the recesses of combat memories harbored from family and non-Combat Veterans, and to provide an open protective environment for Combat Veterans to verbalize any issue weighing heavy on their hearts with other Combat Veterans in a Christian setting without fear of recrimination or reprisal.
In 2012, NEPC Combat Veterans Support Group slowly increased in membership and gain diversity of combat and educational experiences. The group inducted new members who served in combat arenas in World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan conflicts.
In 2013, the NEPC Combat Veterans Support Group unified and assumed a major challenge to ensure one of its members would receive the nation’s highest award for valor, the Medal of Honor. Colonel Bill Collier, USA (Ret) provided the combat veteran support group a detail brief of the North Vietnamese 54-hour siege of his embattled Mo Duc District Headquarters in Quang Ngai Province, South Vietnam during September 16-18 ,1972. Col. Collier, as the only American survivor, was awarded a Silver Star based on the fact that there were no known witnesses to the battle. Based on the evidence documented in his Collier’s brief, the NEPC Combat Veterans Support Group convened an internal awards board after analyzing the all the documentary evidence, talking to two US Air Force pilots who witnessed the battle, and voted unanimously to pursue a request with the US Army for an upgrade of Major Collier’s Silver Star Award to the Medal of Honor. A MOH package was submitted by the group to the U.S. Army, under a Congressional 1130 Action, recommending an upgraded of award to the Medal of Honor.
In 2013, NEPC Combat Veteran Support Group expanded its membership and initiated support activities to enhance the comradeship between Combat Veterans. The group supported Combat Veteran ceremonies and activities. Group members attended burials at Fort Jackson National Cemetery in support of the interment of unclaimed veteran remains, the group attended special send offs to Honor flight for WWII and Korean Veterans, the group travel by bus and toured the USS Yorktown stationed at the Charleston Naval Port, and, accompanied by spouses, attended a Pot-Luck supper hosted by fellow member in his home.
The original NEPC Combat Support Group has increased to thirty members. The group is attributed by fellow members with facilitating the environment and forum where members suffering from PTSD or other forms of stress have at long last can face their internal combat inflictions and by exposing them to other Combat Veterans, they began their own healing process.
The NEPC Combat Veterans Support Group continues to meet its desired goals and objectives of enhancing the Combat Veteran’s quality of life, comradeship, supporting specific Veteran organizations and causes. With increasing membership, the group approved the establishment of an additional NEPC Combat Veterans Support Groups. The second NEPC Combat Veteran Support Group was officially formed on October 16, 2013 and meets on the NEPC campus on Wednesdays, directly after the first group ends.
With the conclusion of America’s hostilities in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as the significant scheduled manpower reductions in the U.S. Armed Forces, there will be a dynamic need for new Veteran organizations that focus solely on the support and care of thousands of discharged Combat Veterans who exhibit PTSD symptoms, are unable to adjust to the civilian society, or only able to communicate their combat experiences and service to other Combat Veterans.
The establishment of the Project Josiah Restoration Ministry is designed on the successes of the NEPC Combat Veteran Support Group. Project Josiah will continue its successful program and expand to other Churches, effectively providing Combat Veterans a new unique platform under Biblical Christian principal that will enable the Combat Veteran to reintegrate whole back into society.
Chaplain Bobby Farmer
601 Polo Road Columbia, SC 29223