The Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund – A Discussion with Organization President David Winters
When Lance Edwards launched his new book As It Should Be, he agreed to donate 200 percent of the proceeds generated on its first day to the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund, a top non-profit that serves America’s veterans. He has currently donated $10,00 to the organization. The Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund serves United States military personnel experiencing the Invisible Wounds of War: Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and Post-Traumatic Stress (PTS). When our Servicemen and women return from the battlefield, we help them fight The War Within, by building “world class”, advanced treatment centers providing the best TBI and PTS care, enabling them to continue to serve on Active Duty and enjoy a productive life. The Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund (IFHF) builds critically-needed centers for treating United States military personnel suffering the effects of Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and Post-Traumatic Stress (PTS). More than 90% of patients treated in the centers are able to continue on Active Duty. Three additional centers remain to be built. The Intrepid Spirit Center program is only the latest in the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund’s almost 20-year history of assisting America’s military community. Since 2000, IFHF has provided over $200 million in support for severely wounded military personnel and families of military personnel lost in service to our nation.
What you’ll learn in this episode:
*The original founding mission of the fund: to provide financial support to the families of service members who were lost in performance of their duty, whether during wartime or not
*How post 9/11 engagements in Afghanistan and Iraq led them to ramp up their efforts to ultimately provide grants to 200,000 families who lost service members in those conflicts
*In 2005, the government substantially increased the federal benefits to those families
*Prior to that, service members were entitled to only a $12,000 death gratuity
*Some service members went off to combat without having their life insurance paperwork up to date, or they opted out due to premium expenses. So some service members were lost and their families only received $12,000
*Terms of the grant from IFHF: $10,000 to those families and $5,000 for each dependent child
*The increased government death gratuity was $100,000, and they also covered the service members group life insurance premiums for any deployed service member
*Expanding to also serve wounded military personnel who have had limbs amputated and suffer from terrible injuries.
*How this led to building a physical wound treatment center called the Center for the Intrepid at the Brooks Army Medical Center in San Antonio, opened in 2007.
*The next step was addressing the crucial issue of traumatic brain injuries. Since 2000, nearly 400,000 service members have been diagnosed with some degree of traumatic brain injury
*IFHF opened their pilot National Intrepid Center of Excellence at Walter Reed in 2010 and is now building a series of 10 intrepid spirit centers to help those suffering from traumatic brain injuries.
*David Walter has been involved with the fund since it began
*The fund was inspired by the late Zachary Fisher, who founded the Intrepid Sea Air Space Museum in NYC. He also founded the Fisher House Foundation program, which provides housing for military and veteran families who are hospitalized at military VA hospitals. Zachary was personally providing financial support to families of military personnel who passed away as far back as the 1983 bombing in Beirut
*David Walter began his association with Zachary working with the Intrepid Museum. When Zach passed away, his family members’ desire to continue his work led to the creation of the fund
*100% of the donations IFHF receives go to serve and benefit the veterans.
*Their Board of Directors personally underwrites the fund’s operating costs and while it’s a national non-profit, they work hard at keeping operating costs at a minimum.
*If you send in one dollar to the IFHF it will all go to building these traumatic brain injury centers
*The 10 “spirit centers” are being built at military bases around the country. Seven are already built and there are three currently under construction. The eighth will soon be breaking ground at Eglin AFB in Florida. Others will be built at Fort Carson, CO and Fort Bliss, TX
*Each center is 25,000 sq ft
*The goal once all 10 centers are open is to make a huge dent to service the population of veteran patients who suffer from traumatic brain injuries
*IFHF is accessible on every social media platform (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.)
*Why it’s crucial to have these injuries treated as quickly as possible, and the possible long-term effects if it is not
*Winter’s desire to spread the word about traumatic brain injuries
*A harrowing personal story about a Marine Corps major named Steve Taylor, whose untreated brain injury led to some serious and frightening consequences. One of those episodes made him aware of his need to have it treated
*The many potential consequences of not treating these disorders, including not being able to sustain gainful employment and the breakup of families
*Just because the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are not front page news anymore, there are many servicemen dealing with danger there (and in Syria and other locations) every day