Warfighter Made is a unique organization based in Temecula, California, that, as part of their recreational therapy, helps combat-wounded veterans return to pre-injury hobbies they enjoyed. They take pride in not only organizing recreational outings for veterans, but also assisting in customizing recreational vehicles to individual veteran’s needs. While many companies make adaptive items for recreational vehicles, it is a rarity to find an organization that helps install them to fit the veteran’s specific needs the way Warfighter Made does.
“Having the outlet to come build and participate in off-road adventures is therapeutic and restorative to the soul,” said Robert Blanton, CEO of Warfighter Made. “Our tag line is ‘Adapted to the injury, customized to the soul’ and we mean it. We want to help our veterans feel empowered, invigorated and to have an outlet to enjoy.”
At the 4,100 square-foot shop in Temecula, the veterans gather to work on their all-terrain vehicles and enjoy each other’s company. During the summer, the shop gets hot – quick. According to Blanton, if it is 100-105°F outdoors, it can easily reach 115°F inside the warehouse district shop, where there is a lack of insulation, a flat roof and a constantly-opened garage door. What everyone does not understand is that the heat is a big challenge for the wounded veterans who gather and work inside on a regular basis – even more so than non-injured people.
“We’ve learned over the years from our veterans that they ‘run hotter’ after sustaining their injuries and the heat truly is an impediment to them. This is confirmed by the specific instructions they are given by their doctors and therapists,” Blanton said. “Little known fact – amputees, for instance, have higher core body temperatures than non-amputees because while they have the same blood volume, they have less surface area to cool it.”
In search of an energy, cost-efficient way to keep the shop cool, in 2016 Blanton got a Portacool Classic 36” Variable Speed evaporative cooler from a local Portacool distributor. Blanton says it immediately made the veterans in the shop more comfortable. Since then, the shop has added a Portacool Jetstream 260 and provided smaller Portacool Cyclones to several veterans who work in home shops. This group includes Angus Powers, a 30-year-old quadriplegic who works on his adapted UTV at his home in California.
“I can’t regulate my core temperature like I could before my injury,” Powers said. “It feels like I shed my skin after my injuries and I just can’t sweat. I will be wiped out in even 85°F heat and I have to take lots of precautions to maintain my stamina in extreme weather conditions.”
Angus is one of the many veterans at Warfighter Made who relies on Portacool evaporative coolers to ensure he can work in the shop in a safe temperature range. He, along with the other vets, see the Portacool cooling solutions as a true necessity that helps them maintain quality of live activities day-to-day.
Blanton is excited to continue sharing their mission to improve veteran lives. The guys recently finished a video series with Monster Energy Supercross on YouTube and they continue to challenge their guys on plenty of off-road courses. Follow their stories by searching #ToyotaWarFighterMade on YouTube. Find out more about WarFighter Made at www.warfightermade.org