Temecula veterans build customized vehicles to help injured vets gain independence

Sunday, December 29, 2019
Vets helping vets: Customized vehicles give injured vets independence
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The nonprofit "Warfighter Made" is an organization founded by veterans to build customized vehicles for ill or combat-wounded service members. They also hold events to take all veterans off-roading for "adrenaline therapy" excursions.

The motto of the Warfighter Made organization is: inspire, adapt and overcome.

And they certainly accomplish all three objectives.

This nonprofit helps get injured veterans off-roading with vehicles customized for them, built by other veterans.

The building process, done in a 4,000-square-foot facility in Temecula, is sometimes called "camaraderie therapy," as vets work side by side or simply socialize and share experiences.

All are welcomed.

The result: customized, adaptable cars, motorcycles and ATVs that have a life changing effect.

And while the battlefields may be so far away, for so many veterans, the memories are so present.

They live with limbs replaced with steel rods and thoughts that won't shut up.

Rob Blanton is a former Marine, and CEO of Warfighter Made.

Blanton said, "I almost myself became a victim as one of the 22 vets that commit suicide on a daily basis."

What saved him? The former Marine says off-roading was his ticket.

He and a group of Purple Heart recipients formed Warfighter Made, dedicated to building and providing vehicles made by vets, custom fitted for amputees.

Today, Blanton is presenting a motorcycle adapted for Army veteran Mitch Melott, who lost his leg in Iraq.

Blanton said, "All the patriots here - for all our brothers and sisters that never came home - please accept this motorcycle."

Melott was overwhelmed with emotion.

"This bike they did for me? Unbelievable. Yeah - just unbelievable."

For former Army Sgt. Kendra Garza, the demon was painkillers.

A long recovery after stepping on an IED.

"I felt all alone," Garza said. "I felt like you know, I was this amazing sky soldier, paratrooper ... and I went from that to -- I felt like nobody."

Now, she soars enjoying the recreational therapy she craves.

"We are naturally thrill seekers. What a perfect fit. Give these veterans something...an outlet where you get out of the military what do you do now?" Garza said.

Warfighter Made also invites ill, injured and combat wounded veterans to participate in recreational trips they call "Adrenaline Therapy Saturdays."

The next one will be in Lancaster.


Now, a members of an elite new unit, getting and giving help to leave worries in the dust.