Honoring Our NVF Veterans of the Year

The NVF honors two outstanding veterans in this milestone year. Jim “Sneaky” White and Jacob Ruch have proved their commitment to all veterans.

Photo of Jacob "Jake" Ruch

Jacob “Jake” Ruch

Jake Ruch served with the US Army in Iraq. A sports blogger and long-distance cyclist, Jake trained with battle buddy Aaron Peeples for a cross-country bike ride to raise awareness of veterans’ mental health issues. When Aaron had to drop out because of injury, Jake kept training and planning. The event, “Brotherhood Bikes and Baseball Across America” (because destinations were major stadiums across the country), was cancelled when the pandemic hit. Jake didn’t miss a beat. He rode 300+ miles in three days from Las Vegas to LA to raise awareness and funds for the NVF. His persistence, courage and stamina resulted in a substantial gift to the Foundation. Jake said to his followers and supporters, “…during this time of panic and isolation veterans’ mental health becomes even more of an issue…If you are a veteran struggling with PTSD, don’t forget exercise is a key component in keeping your mind right.”

James “Sneaky” White, one of the most highly decorated helicopter pilots in Vietnam, established and heads the NVF’s outreach to incarcerated veterans, often an invisible, forgotten population. White established education opportunities for incarcerated vets to earn college credit and job certification. His program reduced its graduates’ recidivism from 65% to 1.56%. Also, from inside prison, he raised over $300,000 for veterans and community organizations. You’ve read about him on our website and in other newsletters. Sneaky’s resilience and perseverance make him a truly extraordinary man. Though he’d be the last to say that of himself.

Shad Meshad

As a U.S. Army Medical Service Officer in Vietnam in 1970, Shad Meshad began pioneering treatment techniques for what would later become known as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). He is the founder of the National Veterans Foundation and founder and co-author of the VA’s Vet Center Program.

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