Ernie Bullock served nearly two tours in Vietnam, and survived the 1968 Tet Offensive.
The former U.S. Marine, who also served with the Air Force, returned from war in 1970 a changed and broken man.
He has since dedicated his life to counseling and serving veterans.
Bullock works at the Veterans Hospital in Sarasota and as an associate pastor at Holiday Community Fellowship Church in Pasco. He leads the church’s veteran outreach, a chapter of Point Man’s International Ministries.
Bullock joined the organization in the 1990s when he became a Christian and led a chapter in New York before moving to Florida two years ago.
The outreach will host a free Spring Festival at Holiday Community Fellowship Church, 5144 Sunray Drive, from noon to 4 p.m. on March 16. Families are invited to come meet firefighters, members of law enforcement and veterans, play games and participate in youth activities. Veterans and their families will serve as volunteers.
“It is essential for children and others to meet veterans and law enforcement and emergency responders,” Bullock said. “People of all ages need to understand these men and women care for others and rise to the call of duty every time they walk through the doors at work. Some of these people have given up their lives to save someone else.”
Last year, about 150 people attended the festival. About 25 volunteers helped organize the second annual event. Many participate in Point Man’s meet-ups at church.
The members form a community with common histories and purpose, Bullock said.
Bullock ministers often to veterans struggling to reconcile their experiences with daily life.
“Many veterans get stuck in grief, but also many are stuck in anger,” Bullock said. “I believe the worst of the anger should be dealt with in therapy groups in VA hospitals. However, churches have a role in recovery, too.”
Bullock spent years recovering from trauma. He and wife, Regina Bullock, found hope in Jesus Christ. Together they work to help restore military couple relationships and guide the broken to healing.
“I’m simply a survivor of many battles trying to carry a torch for my brothers who didn’t make it back,” Ernie Bullock said. “When I got out and tried to come home, I found out like many other Vietnam veterans that I didn’t fit in, wasn’t welcomed, was in serious trouble and needed help in a big way. It is important to me to let other Veterans know there is help out there.”
The Spring Festival will include a mini soap-box derby, visits from Canines for Christ, a martial arts demonstration and first-responder vehicle tours. All will receive a free hot dog and soda.
Donations to support the veteran outreach are appreciated.
For more information, visit holidaycfc.org.