Profile: Rick Bulman, Vietnam vet and sheriff’s chaplain

For Veterans Life

TACOMA — The Pierce County Sheriff’s Chaplain is much more than a spiritual person ministering to the sheriff’s deputies that work in the county.

Rick Bulman is a former combat Marine who served in Vietnam and now serves the residents of Pierce County in a variety of capacities. He is heavily involved in several veterans’ groups, dealing with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, police, their families, and the victims of tragedy.

He has two priorities — the first is God; the second is veterans, which includes active-duty service members, veterans, and law enforcement.

Rick Bulman, Vietnam vet and Pierce County Sheriff’s chaplain. Photo: Courtesy Pierce County Sheriff’s Office

For Bulman, the line between civilian and the military is often blurred. Law enforcement officers often experience the same symptoms and issues that combat vets do. When there has been a critical incident, usually with a fatality, working with the police and survivors is just like dealing with a unit that suffered many casualties.

Chaplain Bulman’s career started while still in the Marine Corps, when he realized that he had issues left over from Vietnam. This led him to involvement in Point Man International, a faith-based veterans’ group that worked a lot with PTSD victims. Later, working with other veterans groups, some focused on soldiers just returning from the present conflicts, he was to learn that PTSD often affects members of law enforcement.

You might say he is the perfect man for the job — he’s been there, done that, and is still at it for both communities.

The formal preparation for his job for the Pierce County sheriff consisted of hours of training to assist grief-stricken people and to debrief law enforcement officers, firefighters, and search and rescue teams who have responded to a tragic incident. Many are also military veterans or members of the National Guard who have had overseas deployments.

The training he received has been qualified under the auspices of various international accrediting agencies. His education is ongoing. Thus, he is indirectly training to provide help for veterans.

Bulman is also part of ICS, a program instituted by presidential order after the first attack on the World Trade Center. This program enables agencies to deal with a specific crisis under the direction of Federal Emergency Management Agency. All of this puts Bulman on call 24/7.

Chaplain Rick can and does perform marriages on his days off. All of this points to the fact that he  is a major asset to Pierce County — once a Marine, always a Marine.