FOWLERVILLE, Mich. (WLNS) — Iraq War veteran and Vetlife co-founder Josh Parish, like many veterans, struggled to find assistance after leaving the military.
“I was in the initial invasion of Iraq from ’03 to ’04. When I left the military after I got home, I struggled to find my benefits. I really went into what I’ll call a dark place for a little while, because I felt like when I left the military that nobody cared for me anymore,” Parish said.
Parish said this experience is a harsh reality faced by many veterans.
“It’s not that benefits aren’t out there for veterans, it’s that the government just doesn’t do a great job of explaining what those benefits are and how to get plugged into those benefits,” Parish said.
He decided to help struggling veterans by creating Vetlife, an organization dedicated toward helping veterans get connected with benefits that they are entitled to.
“Vetlife will not stop until every veteran in the state of Michigan has been screened for their benefits. Not every veteran is going to qualify for every single benefit, but at the very least we should give them the opportunity to make the decision themselves,” Parish said.
Saturday’s Vet Fest event featured multiple organizations from around the area came out to inform veterans. It also featured family-friendly entertainment, such as bounce houses, raffles and live music.
One Purple Heart recipient in the audience said veterans shouldn’t feel ashamed to ask for help.
“Don’t think twice about it. We are here for each other. You got buddies you don’t even know yet,” Ron Brooks said.