Their motto, “Adapted to the injury … customized for the soul” resonates as Warfighter Made works with other like-minded nonprofits, businesses and individuals to ensure combat injured veterans get the best experience possible. Warfighter Made gives them a necessary outlet.
“Upon leaving the military, it is difficult for veterans to transition back to civilian life, which is something WFM helps with in two primary ways,” Robert Blanton, CEO of Warfighter Made, said. Warfighter Made first concentrates on camaraderie, being a part of a team again and working together to create something holistic and useful for catastrophically wounded war fighters. Both parties contribute: the vets helping and the vets receiving help.
“WFM also brings vets and civilians together, and in doing so not only reintegrates veterans back into ‘civilian life’ but allows them to coexist and bond with civilians at the shop. This is in an effort to help veterans more peacefully transition out of the military and back into society, giving them the interpersonal skills to go with their wealth of leadership, knowledge and personal satisfaction in a job well done,” Blanton said.
Based in Temecula, Warfighter Made has significantly benefited local veterans. Led by veterans for veterans, the 501(c)(3) nonprofit has worked since 2012 to customize vehicles for combat-wounded veterans and to provide recreational therapy for service members suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and other injuries. Intending to individualize the vehicles, the service team adapts and matches the personality of the veteran to the car and their needs.
All veterans are invited to go on Warfighter Made recreational therapy trips. They take adventures including shooting at ranges, participating in Lucas Oil off-road events and outdoor activities with their Polaris RZRs. It is a place for vets to come together and wrench on cars as a form of therapy. They are surrounded by like-minded vets who have been through similar life experiences.
Upcoming events include racing the Mexican 1,000 in the Baja peninsula in late April. A total of 12-14 combat vets will be sharing driving duties to cover the 1,000 mile race. Warfighter Made will race in two vehicles, Aspire 22 and Flyer One. Additionally, there will be a team-building event that will also be an opportunity to raise awareness for Warfighter Made and the veteran suicide rate.
After learning of the mission and its effects in the community, the Craftsman brand teamed up with the organization. Director of Product Development Wendy Spencer met Blanton from Warfighter Made at a trade show.
“She’s from a military family and immediately connected with their purpose. When we launched Craftsman’s When it Matters campaign, we knew it was a great opportunity to spotlight the work that Rob and the team at Warfighter Made are doing to support our veterans,” Deanna Gaughan, Craftsman brand manager, said.
To begin their partnership, the two organizations worked to help veteran Gabe Martinez who lost both of his legs after stepping on an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan. He has since received leg prosthetics, allowing him to drive, and Warfighter Made and Craftsman worked to enhance his Dodge Challenger by providing new tires, a supercharge, halo lights, power stop brake kit, suspension kit and more.
According to Gaughan, both companies have been able to benefit the community more through their partnership.
“Rob mentioned there were some jobs they couldn’t take on simply because they didn’t have the right tools,” Gaughan said. “No longer the case. Craftsman outfitted their shop to tackle that next project. By putting Craftsman tools in the hands of Warfighter Made, we can make a real difference in the lives of amputee veterans struggling with adapting.”
Craftsman’s continues supporting Warfighter Made by providing 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 vehicle. Motivated by the work of Warfighter Made, Craftsman’s campaign hopes to inspire people to do their part at any scale.
For more information, please visit Craftsman.com/whenitmatters.