Here to Serve Those Who Have Served America
When Adam Boyce meets with veterans, he has a firsthand understanding of the challenges they may be facing. A service officer with the Richland County Veterans Service Commission, Boyce is a veteran. He served with the U.S. Army in Iraq.
The 1999 Lexington High School graduate went from playing on the varsity soccer team to hauling fuel as a heavy truck operator in a battle zone in just a few short years.
“I went away to college for one year after high school and it didn’t work out,” Boyce recalls. “I joined the Army in 2002 because I had nothing better to do. I was looking for a sense of direction.”
The Army gave him that direction and ultimately his present occupation. “Being in the Army, I learned discipline. I had fun and enjoyed the comradeship, but I had a good friend killed in action and saw eight people from my unit go home early,” he said.
In Iraq from January 2004 to January 2005, Boyce was wounded twice and came home early himself. “I took shrapnel in the leg from an RPG (rocket-propelled grenade). Later, my truck was hit by an IED (improvised explosive device) and I suffered a traumatic brain injury,” Boyce said. “My last mission was on Christmas 2004.”
After returning to civilian life, Boyce applied for a position with the Veterans Service Commission in Morrow County. He subsequently accepted a position in Richland County.
“We see 20 to 30 veterans and their family members a day,” Boyce said. “I can identify with the veterans because of my military background. I hear a lot of similar stories. We do a lot of referrals to outside agencies to try to get them help.
“We see every demographic. It’s nice to be able to help. I feel I have a very rewarding career being able to help people.”
Boyce also is taking steps to help himself by furthering his education. He has been enrolled part-time at North Central State College since 2010, taking classes toward a degree in business management.
“I’m just a few classes away from my degree. I plan to transfer to Mount Vernon Nazarene University and continue taking classes to get a bachelor’s degree,” he said.
“One of the guys I worked with at the Veterans Commission had a previous experience with NC State and suggested I look into it. I checked it out and learned I could use my VA benefits to get a degree.”
The 32-year-old Army veteran said despite his time away from the classroom, he found he could succeed in his classes at NC State. “It has been a good experience. I’ve had some good teachers, like Susan Kubu and Michael Kemerer,” he said. “At times, it was challenging, juggling school, work and family. My brain injury makes going to school interesting. But the faculty has been great about working with me. I would recommend it to any of our veterans. The hours are flexible; they have a lot of evening classes for those who work days.”
As Boyce has learned, many veterans have a desire to tell others their stories. He also will recommend they participate in the planned Welcome Johnny and Jane Home project on the Mansfield campus. In an effort to reach out to veterans and to provide a supportive campus culture to increase the chances of their academic success, NC State and The Ohio State University at Mansfield are working together on the project envisioned by Dr. Paula Caplan in her book.
“It’s a listening project where civilians will sit with veterans and let the veterans talk,” Boyce said. “It’s an effort to build community cohesiveness and to help others understand what the veterans have gone through.”
Later this year, the project will provide training for project participants. Listener coaches will be recruited who will prepare nonveteran listeners to participate in the project. Coaches will be individuals who have had some relevant training and/or experience. Listener coaches will participate with Dr. Caplan in a 3-hour training session. Dr. Caplan will remain available for guidance and consultation following the training.
“I think it would be great if faculty would be involved so they are able to understand the challenges a lot of veterans face,” Boyce said. “Veterans may have physical injuries or combat trauma.”
When not in class or working with veterans, Boyce may be found coaching soccer. He and his wife, Amanda, have two sons, ages 9 and 5, and a 7-year-old daughter. All three youngsters have followed their father to the soccer pitch.