Joe Farmer

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Joe Stephen Farmer (born August 17, 1949; died January 11, 2006 in Birmingham) was awarded a Bronze Star for his service as a member of the U.S. Army Special Forces in the Vietnam War. After the war he married and worked as a journalist, but became a widower not long afterward and sunk into depression.

Later in life he suffered from severe mental illness and lived on the streets. He received aid from the Firehouse Shelter and the Church of the Reconciler, but refused offers of shelter.

Farmer was assaulted on January 2 while camped outside the Church building on 14th Street North. He was taken off of life support at UAB Hospitalon January 10 and died the next day of complications from severe head trauma. Based on witness testimony, another homeless man, Danny Wayne Turner, was arrested and charged with capital murder in Farmer's death.

With assistance from the Salvation Army's John Key, Farmer was buried with military honors at Fort Mitchell National Cemetery in Russell County.

In the view of Lawton Higgs, Farmer's death exemplified the failures of the Birmingham community to provide fundamental care to mentally ill homeless persons. He proposed establishing a specialty shelter in Farmer's memory.

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