Upstate veterans continuing to serve at home, through nonprofit work
GREENVILLE, S.C. (FOX Carolina) - Memorial Day can be one of the hardest days for veterans and families who’ve lost loved ones. Many veterans make it back and face other challenges adjusting to home. So, two upstate groups are finding a way to honor the lives lost while also serving veterans that need help.
“It’s really not a day to celebrate. It’s a day where we, in this nation, take time to remember those that did not make it out,” said Veteran Todd Carpenter.
John Hall served two tours after being drafted for the Vietnam War in 1966.
“It was pretty tough coming home from Vietnam because it was right in the midst of the anti-war protests and all these things. So we’ve carried a lot of baggage,” said Hall.
Shortly after he returned, his three younger brothers followed in his footsteps and enlisted. They all made it home, but the load was too heavy for two of them to bear.
“I think that got to him. I didn’t realize he had a problem. No one knew that he had problems,” said Hall about one of his brothers.
One of his brothers took his own life, and another died years later due to complications from alcoholism.
“Just devastates everyone,” he said. “It’s devastating for the living.”
Hall found a retreat with other vets, bonding over shared experiences overseas and at home.
“After leaving the military, they kind of don’t know what to do,” said Carpenter.
Carpenter is the president of the Special Forces Association Chapter 363, a non-profit. Along with another non-profit, Veterans Helping Veterans president Randy England, they’ve created safe group spaces here at home for vets like Hall.
“It’s healing, it’s healing for these veterans that have PTSD, and it’s healing for them. They have a place that they can feel comfortable, but also we do it together as a team. It’s like you’re back in the military again,” said England, who’s also a veteran.
The organizations frequently work together to offer companionship and assistance for vets, their families, and people who’ve lost loved ones.
“Working on house building rent. We do an Uber program to get veterans to and from doctor’s appointments,” said England.
“If a veteran comes in and has a need for groceries or can’t pay a light bill, power bill, or something like that,” said Carpenter.
They also help connect vets who may need counseling with resources to serve those who need it while finding their own purpose.
“We’re all brothers and sisters because we served this country, so for me, it brings me a lot of joy,” said Carpenter.
Both organizations are always in need of donations and volunteers. So if you would like to help, reach out to Special Forces Upstate South Carolina at firstname.lastname@example.org and reach Vets Helping Vets at email@example.com
Vets Helping Vets also meet every 1st Thursday evening of each month from 6:30 pm to 8:00 pm and All other Thursdays from 10:00 am to 12:00 pm at the Greenville Elks Lodge, 7700 Pelham Road.
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