Desmond Doss’ Childhood House Becomes Veteran’s Home
After living on the streets for many years, Butch, a Navy veteran, has found a home. Butch is one of three veterans currently living in a home owned by the Lynchburg Area Veterans Council at 1309 Garfield Ave. in Lynchburg.
This home was the birthplace of Medal of Honor veteran, Desmond Doss, who many know from the film Hacksaw Ridge, released in 2016, that portrays his journey and heroism while in battle.
Growing up a part of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, Doss and his family prioritized their faith, which he carried into his military career.
LAVC president and retired Army Colonel Thomas Current said that Doss was referred to as a conscientious objector although he preferred the term conscientious cooperator.
Doss took the commandment, “Thou shall not kill” with deep conviction and entered combat without a weapon and with the mission to save lives as a medic.
According to Current and the documentary, Conscientious Objector, Doss was ostracized, called a coward, and people even attempted to remove him from his company.
During the battle at Okinawa, Doss did not adhere to orders of retreat but ran into fire and saved an estimated 75 injured soldiers, some being the very men that spoke harshly against him and called for his removal.
“He would lower a guy over a cliff and pray, ‘Lord let me just get one more,’” Current said.
Doss received the Medal of Honor for his actions. The Medal of Honor citation awarded to Doss describes his actions perfectly as, “Far above and beyond the call of duty.” It is the only Medal of Honor that has ever included the word “far.”
“The Medal of Honor is given for heroic action while in direct enemy fire. This is usually a one-time incident,” Current said. “He did it for days under direct fire.”
On Oct. 12, 2019, on the same day that President Harry Truman awarded Doss the Medal of Honor 74 years prior, the veterans home in Lynchburg was dedicated as a living legacy. The mayor also declared Oct. 12 Desmond T. Doss day, which was celebrated again this year.
Doss’ son, Desmond Doss Jr. was born in Lynchburg and now lives in Washington.
“Desmond Doss Jr. was here a few times,” Current said. “He spoke on the memory of his father and was very moved that his father’s memory and service would be kept alive.”
This home acts as a symbol for providing healing and care for veterans in the Lynchburg area. Current describes the work being done in the community as a “handshake” between all of the veteran groups, shelters and nonprofits in the Lynchburg area working together.
Not only does this nonprofit aid veterans experiencing homelessness, but LAVC seeks to help with evictions and other financial matters, and in PTSD counselling referrals, according to Current.
On Veterans Day, Wednesday, Nov. 11, the National Center for Healthy Veterans will have a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 3 p.m. for an estimated 340-acre and $39-million retreat center project for a veterans, according to Current.
Liberty students are welcomed to register to attend or volunteer for this event in Altavista on Healthyveterans.org. Students can also contact Current for additional projects around the community that help support the veterans.
“He was not a preacher. He was a healer. He did it in Okinawa and continued to do that for the rest of his life,” Current said. “What better way to keep his memory alive than to continue to provide healing to other veterans in his name.”
Brookelynn Dinkler is a Feature Reporter.
Great job Tom , you put so mush in to what we do, you are a great leader . LAVC has been blessed with you as our President . I hope we have many more years with your leadership. May GOD bless you and Charlotte. You both put in a llot of time and effort. What a honor to call you a friend.