New local foundation aims to reunite active duty veterans and first responders

T-R PHOTO BY MICHAEL D. DAVIS Frontlines United Inc. co-founders Casey Schmidt and Ian Wheeldon standing with Everett Schmidt.

TRAER — An idea that has been living in the mind of a Traer veteran for years has finally come to fruition. Ian Wheeldon, an ex-marine who had two deployments to Afghanistan, had the initial thought for the foundation Frontlines United; after mentioning it to a few friends, it is now up and running.

Frontlines United Inc. began in February, and as it says on their Facebook page, the mission is simple: to reunite active duty veterans and first responders. The phrase stuck in co-founder Casey Schmidt’s head is ‘remove the roadblocks.’

“Once people get together and see friends that they had served with and been through some stuff with, traumatic experiences. Once they get with friends, and they’re able to open up and kind of talk about those experiences. It kind of relieves that mental stress on people,” Wheeldon, who serves as the organization’s president, said.

Since Frontlines United Inc.’s conception in February of this year, things have moved swiftly on an upward track. Starting with six original co-founders, the number of Frontlines members has grown to nine.

“Nine total of us have taken off with this, and we’re running with it,” Schmidt said.

All nine members of Frontlines United Inc. are pictured.

In the last four months, they’ve gotten the foundation’s taxes squared away, had a fundraiser, and are about to get their own website.

The Frontlines United’s first fundraiser was held on April 15 at the Traer Golf and Country Club. Along with enjoying a prime rib dinner, people participated in a silent auction and gun raffle. All in all, the foundation raised nearly $30,000 on their first go.

“The services and what we provide is to give back. So, everything that we raise, everything that we do is to give back to those that have served and are currently serving,” Schmidt said.

“Our goal for putting money on the table is if somebody can’t afford to get a plane ticket to go see their friend, they can’t afford to get some meals with their friend, we’ll take care of that,” Wheeldon said.

The military is made up of people from all over America. You could serve with someone who lives down the street or on the other side of the country from you. It is Frontlines’ mission to bring those bonded souls together no matter the distance.

“We just want to make it the easiest possible for anybody, men and women, to get back together to just keep their mental health in a positive place,” Wheeldon said.

The foundation wishes to start with local people. Already a few veterans are in mind, and wheels are in motion for the first reunion.

All of the nine Frontlines United Inc. members are local citizens. They are Schmidt, Wheeldon, Cody Winkowitsch, Josh Ewoldt, Logan Seye, Chris Wilson, Ethan Charley, Bryant Cizek and Heath Brown, a close-knit group.

“I might have just sat on the idea for a couple more years unless my friends made me pull the trigger,” Wheeldon said.

The foundation is not even six months old, and the founders are looking toward the future with the goal to go nationwide and “become a lot bigger than we can handle.”

As Frontlines United Inc. looks toward the future they are making plans for now. Their website is nearly completed; a simple dotting of the i’s and crossing of the t’s needs to be done in the next couple of weeks then it will be live.

Their website will have a section to apply if you are a veteran wishing to have a reunion or to nominate if you know of a veteran that needs a reunion. More fundraisers and events are to come as well, but if you want to donate or help now, find Frontlines United Inc. on their Facebook page. You can also contact them at info@frontlinesunitedinc.org.


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