Fr. Philip Salois has made it his life’s work to help Vietnam veterans and their families overcome the trauma that results from combat and loss of life.
Father Salois is a board-certified expert in traumatic stress. He has 45 years of exposure to combat stress beginning with his own six-year experience in Vietnam.
Like many young men of that era, he was drafted into the U.S. Army at age 20. Soon he found himself in Vietnam as a member of the 199th Light Infantry Brigade.
On March 1, 1970, his platoon came upon a North Vietnamese army bunker complex. The platoon’s forward element was cut off and pinned down.
Phil and a buddy agreed to try and reach those men and bring back as many and they could. As he set out on the mission he paused, said a prayer, and told God that if he got him out of that mess in one piece, that he’d do anything the Lord asked.
Well he did survive that mission and in fact went out four times and helped bring back wounded and dead members of the team. He received the Silver Star for his actions that day.
After a 12-month tour Father Phil came home from Vietnam and answer the Lord’s call to the priesthood in 1972 and joined the Catholic ministry at LaSalette in Attleboro.
Today, he serves as the Chief Chaplain at the VA Healthcare System in Boston and Chaplain of the VA New England Healthcare System. Locally, he serves as president of the James M. Ray Chapter of the Vietnam Veterans of America in Lincoln, RI.