Army veteran and West Point grad raising money, awareness for fellow soldiers

Nearly a half-million veterans call Colorado home, and that number is growing by the day with soldiers coming home from Afghanistan.  But they need help transitioning into civilian life.  And they’re about to get it from an Army veteran and West Point graduate, who’s made it his mission to assist.

Shane Schmutz left the Army as a Captain back in 2008.  He served two tours in Iraq, and was a Black Hawk helicopter pilot.  And he knows how hard it is to adapt to life back home.

“I`ve looked back and realized, wow I really was stressed out.  It really did affect me in ways that I didn`t realize at first.  I think it takes being out of the Army and having that perspective to be able to look back and notice it,” Schmutz told FOX 31 Denver.

Between his first and second deployments in Iraq, he got a divorce.  He knows other soldiers who have dealt with even worse… injuries, homelessness, unemployment, and suicide.  So when he got out of the Army, he knew, he needed to do something to help.

“I wanted to find a way to give back, and to fill a hole,” Schmutz said.

So he dreamed up Veteran’s Passport to Hope, an event next month at Wings Over The Rockies, with auctions and live bands, and all money raised going to help the Wounded Warrior Project.  He says soldiers coming home from war, and their families, need all the help we can give them.

“There`s a lot of deployments, and a lot of stress put on the spouse, and on the soldier, sailor, airman, Marine or Coast Guardsman,” Schmutz said.

Schmutz and his family know a thing or two about the challenges of going to war.

“Well my father served two tours in Vietnam, he was a warrant officer and helicopter pilot in Vietnam, my two younger brothers… David, is 29, he’s a special forces soldier, green beret, overall tough guy, and then my younger brother followed in my footsteps and went to West Point, he`s currently in Afghanistan right now,” Schmutz said.

Until his loved ones come home, and until all of ours do too, he says each of us can help veterans in large ways, and small.

“Maybe it`s attend the event to learn more, maybe it`s give money to one of these veteran friendly non profits, or maybe it’s just go up when you’re in the airport and you see someone in uniform and say thank you for your service,” Schmutz said.

To learn more about the Veterans Passport to Hope event October 4 at Wings Over The Rockies, click here: http://www.veteranspassport2hope.org/