Gabe Martinez did what only 1 percent of today’s Americans do: actively served his country in uniform. His service resulted in the loss of both of his legs after stepping on an IED in Afghanistan.
Despite three out of four veterans having some sort of service-connected disability, today’s veteran is resilient. Injury – whether emotional or physical – often is a temporary barrier for most of today’s warfighters. Gabe is no exception.
Now part of the 7 percent (those who have served and are still alive today), Gabe was selected for assistance by Warfighter Made, a nonprofit organization led by veterans and founded by Marine Corps veteran Rob Blanton. The organization customizes vehicles for the combat-wounded, and provides recreational therapy for service members suffering from PTSD and other invisible injuries. It is a place for vets to come together and wrench on cars as a form of therapy, and be surrounded by like-minded vets who have been through similar life experiences.
Having been moved by the organization’s mission, the Craftsman brand of tools and related products reached out to get involved and give back. The two organizations have now worked together to help veteran Gabe Martinez, who has since received leg prosthetics, allowing him to drive. But to thank Martinez for his service and provide him with a ride he can be proud of, Warfighter Made and the Craftsman brand significantly enhanced his Dodge Challenger by providing new tires, a supercharger, halo lights, power stop brake kit, suspension kit and more — giving him the freedom to enjoy the open road.
To show its continued support for Warfighter Made, the Craftsman brand provided a tool donation valued at over $21,000, including tool storage units, mechanic tools sets, power tools and hand tools, to use for all future vehicle modifications, as well as a $10,000 monetary donation to be used to enhance Martinez’s car.
Craftsman’s partnership with Warfighter Made is part of the company’s larger movement — “When It Matters” – aimed at recognizing Americans for giving back in their communities. Sears and Craftsman continue to help veterans year-round by offering all active and retired military a 20 percent discount on all regular priced tool purchases, and 5 percent off sale items.
The mission of Warfighter Made consists of three pillars:
1. We adapt, and customize a combat-wounded veteran’s vehicle, so they can continue doing the things they enjoy, while their vehicle reflects their individual personality.
2. We invite ill, injured and combat-wounded veterans to participate in our recreational therapy trips. These adventures include shooting at ranges, participating in Lucas Oil Off Road events, and outdoor adventures with our Polaris RZRs.
3. We work with other like-minded nonprofits, businesses and individuals to ensure the veteran gets the best experience possible.
Bottom line: if you know a veteran warfighter that could benefit, reach out to Warfighter Made. And should you be in the giving spirit, consider supporting Warfighter Made – an organization committed to transforming the lives of today’s veterans.
— By Michael Schindler
Michael Schindler, Navy veteran, and founder/CEO of Edmonds-based Operation Military Family Cares, is a guest writer for several national publications, author of the book “Operation Military Family” and “The Military Wire” blog. He is also a popular keynote and workshop speaker who reaches thousands of service members and their families every year through workshops and seminars that include “How to Battle-Ready Your Relationship” or “What Your Mother-in-Law Didn’t Tell You.” He received the 2010 Outstanding Patriotic Service Award from the Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs.