On April 22 2013, the Vets Helping Heroes board was joined by Congressman Ted Deutch, Mayor of West Palm Beach Steve Abrams and Dick Schmidt of the Schmidt Family Foundations to honor Irwin Stovroff, VHH founder and President. Also in attendence were representatives for WPTV News and the Sun Sentinel Newspaper. Board member Lou Molina of Wide Angle Video Productions filmed the whole thing for us and we are thrilled to be able to share it with you.
– Wide Angle Video Productions –
– WPTV –
Irwin Stovroff: Vets Helping Heroes founder honored for his work
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–His plane was shot down in World War II. He was held as a prisoner in Germany.
On Monday, Irwin Stovroff was honored for what he’s gone through, and what he is doing to help other veterans.
A surprise luncheon at the Saint Andrews Country Club in Boca Raton was unexpected for the 90-year-old war veteran.
Former Boca Raton mayor Steven Abrams and congressman Ted Deutch were among the dozen that helped name April 22 “Irwin Stovroff” day in Boca Raton.
Stovroff founded an organization called Vets Helping Heroes. With the organization, he has helped veterans suffering with PTSD, depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts by providing them with dogs that help them cope.
“I came home in one piece, and you didn’t,” Stovroff said of veterans he helps. “That’s why I’m doing this. I want to put you back if I can with a dog who’s going to take you back and you’re going to have a great life.
Stovroff has worked to send nearly 75 dogs to veterans across the country. Stovroff said he never expected to be recognized for his work.
“You know, I’m not religious but I’m beginning to think there’s something special because everybody has been blessing me,” Stovroff said. “But that’s not what it’s about. What it is, we are accomplishing something.”
Learn more about Vets Helping Heroes at www.VetsHelpingHeroes.org
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– Sun Sentinel –
On the Record: WWII Veteran’s Efforts for the Next Generation Honored
Irwin Stovroff thought he was going to lunch Monday to celebrate new milestones in the development of his charity, which trains service dogs and matches returning military veterans with the right “ruff.”
But the 90-year-old World War II veteran’s jaw dropped when he found out he is now part of recorded history.
U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Boca Raton, showed up and read Stovroff a speech he originally made on the floor of the U.S. House. Now, Stovroff, a longtime Boca resident, and his organization, Vets Helping Heroes, are part of the Congressional Record.
“There is no one I know who epitomizes what is great about our veterans as much as you,” Deutch said. “We owe you an enormous debt of gratitude for the heroism you’ve shown at every stage of your life.”
Stovroff, who spent part of his World War II service as a Jewish prisoner-of-war, was speechless at the honor, which also included a live tribute from Palm Beach County Mayor Steven Abrams and a written declaration from Boca Mayor Susan Whelchel that Monday was “Irwin Stovroff Day.”
“Oh, wow,” said the retired furniture businessman. “Am I surprised. This is overwhelming.”
Retiring is not something he ever took to, Stovroff explains. A golf pro swore him off and his lobs usually didn’t make it over the tennis court net, he said. Grateful that he survived that 35th bombing run that ended with his plane shot down over Germany, Stovroff said he decided to volunteer to help veterans.
At first, he worked as a national service officer for ex-POWs, helping them with pensions and claims. But the number needing that kind of help thinned to a trickle, he said. So the director of the veterans’ hospital in Palm Beach County asked him to help in rehabilitation for blind veterans, just as the ranks returning from the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq were starting to swell. Then Stovroff said he discovered that the federal government didn’t have the money to train guide dogs.
In 2007, Vets Helping Heroes was officially born. Now, the organization has raised $5 million for the dog training that can cost as much as $60,000 per dog. And Vets Helping Heroes is nearing a milestone — nearly 70 dogs have been placed in helping roles, according to Pat Levenson, the organization’s executive director.
Some of them are seeing-eye dogs, some of them help detect an oncoming seizure, others help their humans cope with the lingering affects of post-traumatic distress.
Stovroff said he knows all about what was once called, “shell-shock” — he had it. And he’s always had a dog by his side to help him cope.
“One thing for sure, a dog will give you unconditional love 24 hours a day,” he said. “It’s love you can’t get anywhere else.”