Ray “Doc” Tutolo was 20 when he was assigned to the first Marine division Delta 1/7 (First Battalion 7th Marines) in 1967 and went on to serve as a combat medic in the Vietnam War. He was a 24-year-old man when he thankfully came back home, but didn’t receive much of a welcome compared to other soldiers in wars before his tour of duty.
Now Tutolo wants to help other veterans who need a place to share their stories—and maybe, their pain and hopes for the future. Below, he answers questions about his goal.
How do you think veterans are treated today?
Veterans are treated a lot better than during the Vietnam War. Vietnam was 10 years long and everybody was tired of the war. Today, the veterans are respected more and I’m really glad for that.
What is the name of your organization that helps veterans?
Christ Community Chapel Military Outreach. Both younger and older veterans need a safe place to share. Twenty-two veterans a day are committing suicide. So we want to reach veterans from every age group to meet their physical, emotional and spiritual needs.
The Family Outreach is the parents’ group. The parents pray for each other and the family members that are currently serving. They will post their names and pictures. They will send packages and letters to encourage them and let them know how much their service is appreciated.
The Veterans Circle group consists of veterans who have served and would do anything for each other. We are truly a band of brothers. As the group expands and continues to grow, we will mentor younger veterans coming home. The Veterans Circle will reach out to serve other veterans in the community.
Why is it important to help those who served in our Armed Forces?
We know that those who have been fighting and in combat have issues to deal with that make it hard for them to reach out. Unless veterans know they are talking with someone who’s been in their shoes and whom they can trust, they will not be able to talk freely. Our outreach will be the answer to that problem because we know what it feels like to be in combat and other stressful situations.
What are some other important resources Northeast Ohio veterans should know about?
We are willing to reach out to the VFWs or any other military organizations for veterans. We want to reach out to hospice organizations for older veterans. We are open to anything that’s related to military that we could use. And we are willing to partner with other organizations that are helping our veterans.
What is the vision for your organization?
I’ve been praying about this for five years and the opportunity arose this year to restart the military group that we had at the Christ Community Chapel (in Hudson) several years ago. The vision is to impact as many veterans as we can and use every resource that God puts in front of us to help everyone find their peace with themselves and God, whether it is the last stages of their journey or whether their struggle is with being able to communicate some of the fears and some of the unnecessary burden and guilt they carry.
What is the need of the veterans you see?
To be able to feel safe. To create an environment where they know they can talk without being judged. Where everything they say will not be repeated, but will be held in confidence. To know that they can be a part of helping other veterans that they love dearly.