Duty Calls; New Salvation Army Commander puts retirement on hold

Published 6:30 am Saturday, August 19, 2023

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By Clark Curtis, For the Washington Daily News

Salvation Army officers Major Vic Tidman and his wife Major Ellen Tidman had recently retired from their last command in Salisbury, Maryland. After 20 years of service they had moved to their retirement home in Pennsylvania and were preparing to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary. And that, is when the call came. “I received a call from a very close friend of mine in Charlotte, who is in charge of the division for this area, which included Washington,” said Tidman. “He told me, “I need you to go and hold on in Washington, until we are able to find permanent replacement for the commander there.” I explained to him that we had a lot of things going on at the time and that were were up to our necks with the planning of our 50th anniversary celebration. He repeated, “listen to me, I need you to to this.” I, of course said yes as he is only one of two people I can’t say no to, the other being my wife,” he said with a big grin.

Just shy of his first month as the temporary commander here in Washington, Tidman said he was pleasantly surprised by what he saw, as the departing commander had left things very orderly, which has allowed him to immediately start focusing on some of his major goals for the next twelve months. “There are three keys areas that I would like focus on,” said Tidman. “The church itself had become a bit anemic, and I would like to see it grow and prosper. And, I want to focus hard on our fundraising efforts a couple of different ways. This Christmas I would like to use all volunteers, increase their numbers, and expand the number of locations where we have our red kettles. I also want to explore more sustainable fundraising campaigns. Most Salvation Army entities get approximately 30 percent of their funding through the United Way, but that is not possible here.”

The road which led Tidman, a 4th generation Salvation Army officer, to Washington began in 1993 in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, where he and his wife were first commissioned, after having undergone their cadet training and being ordained. They went on to serve in several different regions across the US. He has also had a hand in many disaster relief efforts, from tornadoes in Oklahoma, hurricane Katrina along the Gulf Coast, and serving as the commander of one of the more recent hurricane relief efforts in Florida. But perhaps the most interesting assignment was the six years the couple spent in St. Petersburg, Russia. As Tidman pointed out, in the US you go where you are assigned, but when going overseas you have a choice, and they elected to go. “The needs of the poor seem almost overwhelming there,” said Tidman. “It helped us to see other places than the US, and know that we are blessed to live here. Societies and cultures are different but there are poor wherever you go and they also need assistance. As I told group of cadets one time as they prepared to be sent off to their new commands. “Look around for the thing that desperately needs to be done that nobody is doing, and there is where you will make your impact.” “When I see what is happening in Russia and Ukraine and all the loss of life, it breaks my heart”

The move from retirement back to active service has once again shown Tidman that he still has a fire in his heart for his work. “I have enjoyed some commands better than others,” Tidman admitted. “But I’m on the downside of 71, and I don’t know how long I will be able to do things like this, as this could be the last time. It has all been very fulfilling to me, and I guess that is why I’m open when I get a call from a dear friend who says he needs me to come and do something short term. I’m enjoying it here in Washington, as God has blessed me I guess, with a set of skills that He wanted me to demonstrate over time.”

Those wishing to volunteer can do so by calling the Salvation Army at 252-946-2523. And those who would like to contribute directly to the disaster relief efforts in Hawaii, can do so by making their checks out to the Salvation Army and writing Hawaii Disaster at the bottom left of the checks. One hundred percent of their donation will go directly to the relief efforts in Hawaii. The checks can be dropped off or mailed to the Salvation Army at 112 E. 7th Street, Washington, NC 27889.