Archive | July 14, 2017

Everyday Heroes: Barry Whiteside

In this column, find out more about outstanding Lexington Medical Center employees.

When Barry Whiteside, physical therapist for Lexington Medical Center’s Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation Clinic, retired from the U.S. Army after 25 years of active duty service, he knew firsthand about the mental and emotional struggles of veterans as they return to society. And it’s why he started Vets for Vets, an organization that supports local veterans of every service branch and helps them navigate Veteran Affairs, the civilian work force, Wounded Warrior opportunities and service-connected affairs.

Barry Whiteside

“Vets for Vets started out in Gateway Baptist Church, where another veteran and I, both suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and trying to navigate the Veteran Affairs bureaucracy, realized that the more we talked with one another, the more comfortable we were in our surroundings,” said Barry.

From there, the two-man group grew to become a support group for all veterans, giving them a place to meet, socialize and share war stories. Service members also learn how the Bible can affect their daily life and help them understand their military experiences. Senator Nikki Setzler, Senator Lindsey Graham, and the state of South Carolina presented the group with a Senate resolution for its efforts.

“We are a brotherhood and sisterhood for those who have served their country, no matter which branch of service, whether active or retired. We honor the sacrifices made by Americans who proudly wore their uniforms and especially those who paid the ultimate price for our freedom and liberty,” said Barry.

Service members make up less than 1 percent of the country’s population. Members of Vets for Vets include young veterans of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom who have recently returned from deployments and service, along with Vietnam and WWII veterans.

“I feel it’s important to give back to fellow veterans because there are so few of us compared to the rest of society. By recognizing a need to assist veterans, whether it is in their communities or VA relations, I found a way to cope with my personal struggle of returning to civilian life,” said Barry.

Service is part of Barry’s family life as well. He and his wife Janice have been married for 31 years; they have two children. Their son Jonah is a senior at Anderson University who is applying to Uniformed Services Medical School to become a military doctor. Their daughter Jordan is a rising senior at Chapin High School with the hopes of pursuing international global relations with an emphasis on national security, diplomacy and intelligence.