Man recognized for helping medically discharged veterans
HOPEWELL, Va. (WWBT) - When members of the military return home, transitioning back into society can be difficult.
A Hopewell area veteran is stepping up to help.
“Our goal is to help wounded veterans that are coming back home from the different wars,” said Don Vtipil, who co-founded the Military Assistance Program.
The program’s mission is to help medically discharged servicemen and women who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan. It helps them find jobs, get a car and even set up their own business.
“We have a young man, Aaron Hale, down in Florida. We gave him money to get his fudge company started,” said Vtipil. “It is now a very popular - EOD (Extra Ordinary Delights) fudge. Aaron is blind, he came here, and he’s making fudge and selling it all across the country right now.”
Vtipil, an army veteran himself, is passionate about the work.
To show his appreciation, he holds a special concert in Hopewell at the Beacon Theatre and flies in a handful of veterans from around the country.
“We convince them to come here with no clue about what’s about to happen,” Vtipil said. “During the concert, (we) will take a little break and we invite them up, and they tell their story very passionate story about what their issues are, and then we surprised them typically with a five or $10,000 check.”
An avid NBC12 viewer, Gail Howell wanted to recognize Vtipil’s work and nominated him for the Acts of Kindness award.
“I wanted to do it for him because of what he does for all the soldiers,” Howell said.
With the help of Vtipil’s wife, they kept the moment a secret.
Vtipil says he has given away a little more than $3 million to veterans locally and across the country, and he’s not stopping there.
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