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Photos of the Day: By a Vet, for the Vets

“If you do not see the change, be the change.”

The 2006 Jeep LJ “Head Hunter” pictured is about to take on one of the most amazing trips I have ever had the pleasure of merely hearing about. Recently built by FMJ Off Road, special for this cause, has more modifications than I can list. Typically this is the focal point of the POTD articles, but this is not the case today. A list of mods can be found towards the bottom, but for now it is story time, so settle in.

Richard “RJ” Dudzik was an 18 year old who enlisted into the United States Army directly out of high school. In less than two short years, he experienced more dreadful situations than many would in a lifetime. As we all know, freedom does not come free. During the time he was deployed, RJ was hit by multiple IEDs and Vehicle-Born Explosive Devices. This resulted in numerous injuries, including a traumatic brain injury, PTSD, nerve damage, and more. As he very well earned, he became a Purple Heart recipient and was given full honorable discharge from the military. For the next six years, Richard was homeless.

Many veterans face this, while not a single one should. Above all, those who give everything for the civilians in this country, deserve the utmost.

Despite all of the bad, like the strong man he is, Richard got up.

Statistics from the VA Suicide Prevention Program state that in 2014, on average, 20 Veterans died each day from suicide. I think I speak for every person who comes in contact with Rich, that we are all so thankful he is not another statistic. He, among many other Veterans for whom it is too late for, I am sure, is a very special person. You can see it the second meet him as it radiates. You would think his genuine happiness and positive outlook are a clear indication of a near-perfect life, without a single hint of his shocking past. Knowing all I do, it is clear he is the perfect heart for this job. He tells “I want to turn my pain into purpose. I want to make a difference in this world that has become so cold, and I aim to inspire. My brothers and sisters need to know that they are not alone, their lives have meaning, and someone cares.”

His mission is beyond important, and the passion he is pouring into this trip is astonishing. He is currently in the process of selling the majority of his belongings, to embark in a cross-country adventure set to begin mid-June. For an undetermined amount of time, he and his E.S. Canine “Tank”, will begin their journey to raise awareness in regards to the absolutely heart shattering epidemic this country faces daily. Purely selfless, he feels he owes it to his military family to support them and offer all he can. He plans to give love, comfort, support, haircuts/shaves, portraits (for jobs, gifts, etc.), rides to the VA hospitals, personal hygiene supplies, and anything else he can. He will give it everything he has; his mission along with raising awareness, is to change lives, and save some. Rich expresses “I am fueled by pain, but strive forward with love, care, and kindness.”

Please, on this Memorial Day, aside from barbecues with your loved ones, take time to remember what this day is truly about. Remain humble and thankful, knowing this country is built on the freedom that our Veterans fight for daily. Memorial Day should be every day.

To donate to Richard’s cause: http://Www.GoFundMe.Com/ByaVetFortheVetsMission

A special note from Richard: To anyone who is even willing just to read my story, I thank you whole heartedly. To anyone who donates to assist me, no matter the amount, with this mission; there are no words I can possibly say to express my appreciation. Thank You for your Time. Love & Peace”

rich

POTD- Memorial Day Should Be Every Day

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Modifications List: Custom front bumper, custom rear bumper, custom rock sliders, custom flat fenders, windshield visor, grille shell, custom hood-mounted air snorkel/intake, desert tan and black bed liner for exterior, interior, and wheels, Rockford Fosgate sound system, custom sound bar with sub-woofer overhead mount, LED lights all around, under body coat, custom exhaust, combat-rated custom badge, and underbody rock light.

Sponsored additions include–

• CB radio and Dick Cepek wheels from Mason Dixon Jeep Deplorables.

• Fuel door, 3-flag spare tire mount system, steering wheel paracord wrap, shackles, tree saver/strap, snatch block, and Hi-Lift Jack from OMNI Media Agency.

• Smittybuilt XRC9500 lb winch, and storage compartment from Big Foot Off Road.

• Spare tire third brake light from J5TH Designs.

• Five Hankook AT-M 33″ tires from Highland Tire.

• Custom dashboard panel by Azzys Design Works.

• Custom “By the Vets for the Vets” hood wrap by Digital DGS Wraps.

• Storage compartment and Wrangler camping tent with air mattress from 4WD.

Cited Sources: https://www.va.gov/opa/publications/factsheets/Suicide_Prevention_FactSheet_New_VA_Stats_070616_1400.pdf

About Jennifer Buzzatto

Jennifer is a contributor to Future Motoring and also serves as the Photo of the Day Editor.

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