Vets Helping Heroes was founded by Irwin Stovroff, a highly-decorated WWII veteran and liberated-POW who spent 13 months in Nazi “Stalag Luft I” Prisoner-of-War camp after being shot down on his 35th combat mission as a Bombardier with the 44th Bomb Group. He discarded his dog tags before his capture to hide the fact that he was Jewish. He thought all was lost when he was recognized by a Nazi interrogator. Irwin had been his family’s newspaper boy in Buffalo, NY. The interrogator told Irwin that he wanted to help him and he put a "?" on Irwin’s records next to religion, effectively saving his life.
Determined to pay it forward, after retiring from a long career in sales, Irwin volunteered at the West Palm Beach, Florida VA Hospital. In 2007 he learned that there was no money in the VA budget to provide service dogs of any kind as a form of treatment. At that time, even Guide Dogs for the visually impaired, could only be provided from private donations. Despite his own PTSD and other personal challenges, Irwin worked feverishly to found Vets Helping Heroes, a non-profit charity, formed in 2007, dedicated to providing service dogs for active duty military and retired Veterans recovering from the physical and psychological challenges they suffered as a result of their service to our country.