Years after he suffered a mental breakdown as a result of all he had been through during his years serving our county, Blair Hope, a South Rim resident and disabled Navy combat veteran started a non-profit foundation that provides Tooele County veterans with mental, physical, spiritual, and financial aid.
Hope organized the Hope for Life Foundation in December 2020.
Speaking of his personal battle with adversity, disability, depression, and PTSD — Hope said “I had to have 12 weeks of in-house therapy,” he said. “It was the best, worst time of my life. I had to address everything on a personal level.”
After Hope came out on the other side of his healing journey, he realized while speaking with his wife that veterans needed more than the Veterans Affairs hospital alone could provide.
“The VA is there for medicinal purposes,” Hope said. “It’s not there for a brotherhood or a mental or social confidence purpose. I thought, ‘There has got to be something, like a one stop shop where veterans can heal,’ so we came up with the Hope for Life Foundation.”
The name for the foundation came while Hope was again talking to his wife.
“The biggest thing that stuck out to my wife and it wasn’t my last name, but the fact that there has to be hope; there has to be a better life,” he explained. “We want to strive for a reason to live. The reason a lot of people don’t want to live is because they don’t have the confidence. If you really dive into the definition of the word hope, it’s fabulous. Hope is everything.”
Hope gathered those interested and created a board, a business plan, and a vision statement which reads, “Enabling and empowering veterans to be confident, contributing citizens of our community.”
Hope and founding members decided to help veterans based upon four important areas of their lives. They call these the four pillars of strength.
The first pillar is mental.
“We will work with them to get the support they need to get them mentally on track,” Hope said. “Being mentally straight is the key to opening up the heart which gives you confidence, love, and respect.”
Their second pillar is physical.
The physical pillar deals with fitness, diet, handicaps or special needs, along with helping veterans sign up for VA benefits.
The next is spiritual.
“There are no atheists when you are trying to heal somebody,” Hope said. “Spiritually, you must be in tune with somebody or something. Our organization is nondenominational, but it’s all about Christ ultimately.
Lastly, the group deals with finances by helping veterans obtain VA loans, property tax abatement, and veteran-friendly brokers, real estate agents and corporations.
“We figure out the plan they need, both short-term and long-term, to become the veteran or man they need to be with their family and the community,” Hope explained, speaking about the four pillars.
They also came up with their slogan — “What’s the next step?”
This urges veterans to keep pushing forward towards healing and a better life, according to Hope.
“We coach and enable veterans to achieve their milestones, which builds their confidence,” Hope said.
After creation, one of the foundation’s first orders of business was to create a retreat for veterans. They designed the retreat to be a 44-hour “hardcore” soul-searching experience. The retreat is for all veterans, regardless of religious denomination or background and is the first step in the program.
“This retreat is about empowering veterans to acknowledge, accept, and learn how to surrender the demons and masks we wear,” Hope said. “Those demons and masks actually lead to all of the ailments we deal with including depression, anxiety, addiction, and worst of all, fatally, suicide.”
Last year, 47 veterans attended the retreat.
“Once these men go on our retreat, it is life changing, literally,” Hope said.
Each year, a banquet is held on the third Saturday in May on Armed Forces Day. During the banquet, members in the program are recognized, and money is collected for scholarships to pay for their retreat.
This banquet, which is the biggest fundraiser of the year is important to Hope because he doesn’t want any veterans missing out on the retreat because of financial concerns.
The foundation also holds a long-range shooting competition, a side-by-side veterans’ ride hosted by Ride Utah, and a family weekend retreat to help loved ones of veterans better understand their veteran loved one and receive the resources they need. They also host coaching seminars, therapy counseling, and service opportunities for veterans and their families.
Besides their many events, someone is always available for veterans who need someone to talk to, but veterans who are contemplating suicide must call 988, the National Suicide Hotline.
Members of the foundation are also able to provide financial assistance or food for veterans and their families.
“I can’t do this personally, but because of the foundation, we are able to help families,” Hope said.
Hope is thankful that he was able to organize a foundation aimed at helping veterans.
“God has given me everything and I was able to give back,” he said.
In the future, Hope plans to open up a building to house the foundation and his retreats. He also hopes more veterans and their families will hear about the foundation and utilize their resources and aid.
Along with the foundation, Hope has also written a book about his healing journey entitled “Is There Hope?”
Hope wrote the book after a member of his board encouraged him to do so.
The book is available on Amazon, Audible, and i-books.
The foundation will be hosting their annual retreat on Oct. 13-15 in Huntsville, Utah. There is still time for veterans to sign up.
To sign up for the retreat, donate to the foundation, or learn more about the foundation, please visit thehopeforlife.org.
They also sell merch.
Hope wants to thank the Tooele County community for their support.