Blake Leitch Wounded Combat Vet Makes I ♥ Vets Tee Shirts to Help Put Unemployed Vets Back to Work.
Blake Leitch is a combat veteran. In 2005, Blake was deployed to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. During my deployment he was wounded in action when an IED hit his Bradley Fighting Vehicle.
Since coming home and recuperating from the wounds he sustained he has realized that there is no greater need than to invest in our Veteran families’ education. Blake linked up with Mark Slaby, the Founder of Illinois Patriot Education at The Medinah Patriot Day. That day he realized that there is not only a huge gap in our nations heroes VA benefits, but there is also many great Americans that want to help the vets succeed.
Blake Leitch of I ♥ Vets Interview
I met Blake through a wonderful friend and I was so inspired by his story and what he is doing to help other vets that I had to meet him.
Blake is one of the nicest guys you ever want to meet and he is working hard to build a business that helps his family, his community and other combat wounded vets.
Blake started the I Heart Vets Tee Shirt Company to help combat wounded vets in his town, find jobs and get help and he has been fairly successful at it.
I love his Tee Shirt so much I have asked Blake to make a special one for my US Veterans Group on LinkedIn. That group now has over 23,000 members. Not all of them need help, but many need resources and jobs and we are always looking at ways to help.
Blake has made us his I ♥ Vets Shirt with our US Veterans Logo on the back, but you can have Blake make your organization a shirt or just buy a plain I Heart Vets Tee Shirt by going to his site and choosing from what he has in stock.
If you want the US Veteran Special Edition Tee Shirt, which costs the same as his regular shirts, you can go to www.bit.ly/usvet. 20% of the proceeds will go to the Wounded Warrior Program.
Blake is a great guy and his company is doing wonderful work so please support his efforts. Thank you Blake for all you do. – JW
I Heart / Love Vets
Blake Leitch, wounded combat vet first started making I Heart Vets Tee Shirts to support the efforts of The Illinois Patriot Education Fund (IPEF) and he still heavily supports that cause.
Blake’s Tee Shirts have now taken off and he offers his Tee Shirts that support his causes and his family and also can offer your organization his services to easily use I Heart Vets merchandise for your student group, Student Veteran of America Chapter, VFW, American Legion, or any other group. Start fundraising.
This book has one primary purpose: To Get Veterans Jobs! With the help of veterans from the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines this book was written by a current Professional Fortune 50 Lead Recruiter with nearly 15 years of experience.
Because the author recruits as his profession in this challenging job market every day, he knows what works and what doesn’t.
This is a no-nonsense guide to help vets get hired, even in this difficult job market –even if nothing else has worked.
A substantial portion of the proceeds from book sales are donated back to charity to help veterans at HonorVet.org and to help the stray and abandoned animals at Logan’s Run Rescue.
Reposted From Off The Shelf & Online
Eastern Illinois University Journalism Dept.
Among so many things, Blake Leitch is a father, student, and husband. But like many other veterans and their families, Blake suffers from the aftermath of war.
Blake graduated from Mattoon High School in 2000. He was an active participate in the National Guard his junior and senior year. Right after high school, Blake entered basic training for the military. He said
“During that time I came to the realization that I liked doing the Army full-time,” Blake said.
Blake signed up for active duty not knowing the future ahead of him. “The day I reported for active duty was actually September 11th, 2001,” he said.
A few months later, Blake found himself in the midst of the war: Iraq. During that time Blake’s vehicle was hit by an IED bomb over 20 times. From that incident alone, Blake now suffers from severe back and traumatic brain injuries.
“I lost count after about 24 roadside bombs that my convoy vehicle was hit with and the last one is when I took strap mill to my face,” Blake said.
Blake said it wasn’t just one of the bombs that caused his injuries, but a combination of all the explosions he was in.
Years later and a safe return home, Blake is still fighting a battle with the skeletons of his past. Along with back injuries and traumatic brain injuries, Blake was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and suffers from ringing in the ears.
Many soldiers face similar struggles like Blake after returning from war. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a severe anxiety disorder that that can develop after exposure to any event that results in psychological trauma. Kim Dowland, a nurse practitioner at Eastern Illinois University Health Services, said PTSD is not an uncommon mental disbility for military veterans. Click here to watch Kim’s interview about PTSD.
Blake still visits the doctor on a regular basis because of his back injuries. Due to the PTSD and traumatic brain injuries he also has difficulties sleeping.
“Every night I’m taking a sleeping pill to help me go through that,” Blake said. “I’ve had a hard time finding a medicine that wouldn’t put me in such a deep sleep that I’d have nightmares.”
Blake said it’s also really hard for him to stay focused for long periods of time due to the PTSD and traumatic brain injuries.
“My brain is just so messed up from what happened over there that it’s just taking a long time to really re-program that,” Blake said.
Blake’s wife of over 7 years, Jackie Leitch, and their son 22-month-old son, Spencer, have helped Blake get through difficult times.
Jackie said though Blake being deployed wasn’t easy, it has actually made their relationship stronger knowing that they have overcome such difficult hurdles.
“We look back at that year that Blake was deployed and we know that we wouldn’t want to do it over again, but we also know there were great things that came out of that for us,” she said.
Jackie said seeing the struggles he still is dealing with a couple years later is still tough. Though she will never truly know what Blake is going through, she said she offers him a listening ear, encouragement, and support. To hear more of what Jackie has to say about her husband, Click right here.
“Honestly, I think its made us stronger,” Blake said. “It makes us communicate better.”
Blake said knowing that he has his family there for him helps him get through everyday. “It gives me more to live for,” he said. Click here to view a slideshow of Blake and his family.
Other than his family, Blake’s spiritual beliefs have also gotten him through post-war difficulties. Blake and his wife Jackie are strong believers in their faith.
“I really believe if it wasn’t for my devotion and my relationship with Jesus I really wouldn’t be alive,” Blake said.
Click here to see a photo essay of how Blake deals with his everyday struggles.
I Heart Vets:
The I Heart Vets Website
The I Heart Vest Special Edition US Veteran on Linkedin Tee
The US Veteran Group on Linkedin was started to assist US Veterans of all services and of any age to connect. As it has expanded to over 23,000 members and growing, it now also looks to help find resources for the veterans who need them.
We also allow family members and resources such as job recruiters and vet help programs for drug abuse and suicide etc.. also join.
If you are a vet looking for work you can also join our US Veteran – Jobs Group