RIDGELAND, S.C. (WSAV) — One Lowcountry group is working to take away some of the pain veterans experience — not through therapy or medication — but with fire and friendship.
Memorial Day honors those who lost their lives in battle.
But every day there’s another fight going on — saving veterans’ lives who come back from the battlefield — only to be unable to handle life as a civilian.
The founders of OPFOB understood that and are working every day to give veterans hope and help.
JR Brown of OPFOB explained,” Rather than being in a four-walled room, a doctor’s office sitting around reading out of a manual what they should say to you and what they should do. I want to talk to a Lance Corporal who lost his buddy to an IED, how did he make it through that.”
That’s why OPFOB (Operation Forward Operating Base) has spent the last 22 days around the fire one day for every one of the 22 veterans who take their own life every day in America.
“When they are holding that in for so long and it just bottles you up, it’s never going to come out in a positive way. So when they are out here and be around other people that they are comfortable talking to it releases some of that. And you can tell the load they are carrying is a little lighter,” Stephanie Brown said.
“You don’t have to be talking about the time you spent in Iraq or Afghanistan or Vietnam. But just talking about life,” said JR Brown. “Life can get tough. I don’t care if you are a veteran or not. Dealing with kids and a wife, a business, owning a business, a job, just having like-minded individuals to bounce things off of.”
“I still have bad days. I know a lot of people see me doing speaking engagements on tv. I smile. I still struggle. But those days look a lot better than they did 10 years ago.”
“Now when I struggle I have a whole army of veterans I can reach out to. If I don’t hear from some of these guys for a few days they will reach out to me. I know you have a lot going on, what’s up.”
“I wish I had an opportunity to start this thing 10 years ago, I wouldn’t be at 25 guys that I served with that I lost to suicide. Maybe I could have saved some of them.”
“Everybody that has come through that gate so far knock on wood, are still with us.”
“What does that mean to you?”
OPFOB will have a ceremony at their Ridgeland property tomorrow starting at noon followed by a Memorial Day service.
Everyone, not just veterans, is invited to celebrate and honor those gone but not forgotten.