The Founders Story
While serving in Iraq, I was hurt from falling into an impact crater created by an incoming mortar shell. I couldn’t walk at first, but after being transported to the field medical center, I was able to stand and walk to some degree. After staying in the center for about a week, I was able to regain my unit with limited duties.

Over the next 10 years I deployed 7 more times. Five deployments to Iraq and three to Afghanistan. Each deployment took a toll on my physical and mental health. I was deteriorating fast. No longer able to deploy, after fifteen years in the service, my career was now over.

I applied for my VA disability rating and was told that although the VA had acknowledged I was injured in Iraq and that injury was preventing me from walking and my multiple deployments had an effect on my PTSD, it was not service connected and therefore, denied.

I was unemployed, unable to walk and had server PTSD. Our family was broke and for the first time in my life, I had no idea how I was going to provide for my family. During this time, our water heater and washing machine quit working. I was lucky, I had family that could help financially. Although it took me months to ask. Most Veterans don’t have that.

After I was discharged and waiting for my rating, my wife and friends noticed a big change in my ability to be nice. I had a short temper and had little patience for everyone. I was convinced to contact the VA and get some counseling to help me learn to manage my PTSD.

There are hundreds of Veteran organizations that help our service members, but there were none I could find that focused on short term issues like my situation. Most groups wanted to know my disability rating. Since I was still appealing my denial, I had none technically. That translated to no help.

I told my wife that if we were ever in a position to start a foundation to help all Veterans whether or not they are disabled, we needed to. We could not be the only Veterans in this position. I was right.

That’s why we started Veterans Independence Foundation. A Veterans organization that focuses on short term barriers to long term health, happiness and success for not only disabled Veterans, but all veterans.

Thank you
Neil Blitstein
Veterans Independence Foundation