Fr. Salois – 2014 Veteran of the Year

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Fr. Philip Salois, M.S.

Father Philip G. Salois has been named Veteran of the Year for 2014 by the United Veterans Council of Woonsocket, Rhode Island. In addition to serving as VVA’s National Chaplain, Father Phil, who is president of VVA Chapter 818, serves as chief chaplain at Veterans' Administration Boston Healthcare System and chaplain at VA New England Healthcare System.

As reported by the Valley Breeze, the Council’s selection was based on Father Salois' lifelong work to help Vietnam veterans and their families overcome the trauma that results from combat and loss of life.

Fr. Phil Salois, M.S., who has been named Veteran of the Year for 2014, serves as chief chaplain at Veterans' Administration Boston Healthcare System, chaplain at VA New England Healthcare System, and president of the Lincoln Vietnam Veterans' Post 818. According to a release from the Council, nomination for the award by Post 818 was based on Salois' lifelong work to help Vietnam veterans and their families overcome the trauma that results from combat and loss of life.

"In Vietnam while assigned to the 199th Light Infantry Brigade and armed only with a grenade launcher, a young and yet-to-be-ordained Father Salois and his buddy braved the front to rescue comrades, despite the danger," the release explained. "Bringing bodies home, alive or not, was the objective. On the field in the chaos and confusion of preserving life, Father Salois made a promise. If he returned without injury, he would acknowledge his destiny to God. And return without injury he did."

 

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(left to right) George Steinbrunner,
Phil Salois and 
Lloyd Arvin of the
199th Light Infantry Brigade

Five years later, Salois answered the calling, realizing that the men and women gravitating to him for consolation were not field buddies but folks seeking a priest. After receipt of the Silver Star for combat duty and his service, Fr. Salois left the U.S. Army to join the Catholic Ministry at La Salette in Attleboro, Mass.

A board certified expert in traumatic stress since 2001, Fr. Salois has over 44 years of exposure to combat stress, beginning with his own six-year experience in Vietnam and serving from 1984 to present day in the priesthood.

Salois served as national chaplain to Vietnam Veterans of America since 1994 and Massachusetts Department chaplain to The American Legion since 1993. Other organizations for which he is a well-known supporter include AMVETs, Catholic War Veterans, Disabled American Veterans, Knights of Columbus, Military Chaplains Association, National Association of Veterans Affairs Chaplains, National Conference of Veterans Affairs Catholic Chaplains, and Reserve Officers Association.

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Picture of Fr. Salois from
his time in Military Service

Fluent in French and semi-fluent in Spanish, Fr. Salois received numerous military awards in addition to the prestigious Silver Star, including: Meritorious Service Medal, Combat Infantryman's Badge, Vietnam Service Medal, Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal, Air Medal, Army Commendation Medal with three Oak Leaf Clusters, Army Achievement Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters, Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, and DAV Distinguished VA Employee of the Year Award.

He also received numerous clergy awards, including: National Recipient of Celtic Cross Award from the Catholic Veterans of America, Life Achievement Award for Outstanding Service to the Veteran Community from Vietnamese-American Veterans of New England and Canada, Veterans Affairs Chaplain of the Year by Military Chaplains Association, Chapel of Four Chaplains Humanitarian Award, Chaplain of Four Chaplains Bronze Medallion Award, and Knights of Columbus Lantern Award.

(Originally reported in The Valley Breeze, Breeze Publications, on 12/11/13; used with permission