A Story of Epic Proportions

VetConnect is a nonprofit that is focused on lowing the 22 per day suicide rate within the veteran community.  It is our goal to find and share success stories from veterans who have overcome struggles and found a way to keep moving forward.  These stories will soon be released on a Nationwide podcast that will be free for all listeners.

In order to lead by example, our founder and Executive Director, Zack Starr, decided to share his story in an attempt to spread hope amongst the hopeless.  And so “The Epic Mile” was born.

The Epic Mile:     Determined and adventurous outdoorsman, Zack Starr, vows to defy chronic pain and inspire fellow injured veterans by tackling the “Everest of hiking trails”, the Pacific Crest Trail – 2,650 miles up the West Coast of the United States, despite facing a 6th surgical attempt to repair a service ending shoulder injury.  After 5 months of awe, majesty, weather extremes and athletic success, escalating physical, mental and emotional pain threaten Zack’s finish.  When word reaches him on the trail that the doctor cannot risk offering a final pain relieving shot without destroying what is left of his shoulder, Zack is left near hopeless and in extreme pain.  Pursuing the trail reveals a hidden period in Zack’s past where hopelessness almost took over and he nearly ended his life.

In a beautiful irony, Zack’s thoughts focus on his fellow brothers and sisters in the services who face physical and mental blows daily from injury and illness and the 22 veterans a day that will commit suicide.  Holding onto the faith that completing the journey is no longer a personal challenge, but a necessity for saving lives, he takes it one step at a time and one hour at a time with his eyes on the Canadian terminus.

 “The Epic Mile” has been screened in TX and OH to welcoming supporters.  The feedback has so supportive that we are now in the process of selecting cities for special release of the film.  “In film we have an opportunity to reach an audience on an emotional (and sometimes spiritual) level that is otherwise hard to come by.  It is our hope that this film will continue to touch the hearts of veterans, their families, and anyone who has ever experienced struggle in their lives.  Because with any challenge, we can preserver as long as we take it one step at a time.” – Zack Starr.
Click here to watch the official trailer of “The Epic Mile”.

2nd Edition T-Shirt Fundraiser

Due to popular demand we have released a 2nd edition of the VetConnect t-shirt. The new shirt is a great way to show your support for our veterans and it also makes a great gift. (sale ends 12pm (noon) EST. Dec 16th). This 2nd edition t-shirt features a new design, a new color, and a new imprint on the back of the shirt. The price, however, has not changed and is only $25 per shirt. This time we are going with a soft touch Gildan or Hanes shirt so that there will be no weird sizing issues (like we may have had last time). The Gildan and Hanes brands are well known and are a pretty general fit.

Tshirt Fundraiser 2nd Edtition Tshirt Ad Dec 9


*If buying multiple… select size then select “Add to Cart”, then at the PayPal page select “Continue Shopping” and it will return you to this page where you can select the 2nd size and so on*

The new t-shirt fundraiser has been created to raise funds for our feature documentary film that will highlight our founder (Zack Starr)’s trek on the Pacific Crest Trail and his battle through the pain of a service ending disability. The goal of the film is to show other injured veterans that they CAN push through the pain and that there IS life after injury. Your contribution will help us to pay for the final editor that is needed to finalize this project and to submit it to the GI Film Festival that will ultimately deliver this film to thousands of veterans who may need just a little bit of hope.

Fundraising For The Feature Documentary Film Project

Thanks for visiting VetConnect. We are in the process of raising money for our feature documentary that will feature the story of Zack Starr’s injury to his successful completion of the Pacific Crest Trail. The purpose of the documentary is to show other injured veterans that you can push through the pain and that there is life after injury. The loss of hope is one of the major contributors to veteran suicide and depression.
Our first fundraiser was amazing and the show of support was overwhelming. We were able to raise a lot of money towards the documentary, but we still have a lot to go. Starting soon we will have a new t-shirt drive where we will be selling VetConnect t-shirts to help raise money and awareness. This edition will be a red shirt. Until then, please feel free to hit the donate button below to make donations. All proceeds at this time will be going towards the cost of the documentary film that will be submitted to the GI Film Festival in Washington D.C. in the spring. Thanks again for your support.

1st Annual Night of Hope

From April 18th to October 3rd 2015, Zack Starr (a disabled veteran) overcame extraordinary circumstances as he hiked the 2,659 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail from Mexico to Canada. Less than 30% of those who attempt the PCT actually complete the trail each year as it is known as the “Mt Everest of all hiking trails” for its terain and the brutality of the distance involved. But as a disabled veteran, Zack not only had to endure the typical pains and struggles of the PCT, he also had to push through the pain from his Service ending disability. After a 5th surgery (December 2014) was unable to repair the injury, Zack decided to hike the PCT anyway as a kickstarter for his organization VetConnect and to show other veterans that you can push through the pain and there is life after injury.

Join us on October 23rd for the “1st Annual VetConnect Night of Hope” to celebrate this accomplishment and hear Zack’s story first hand. The evening will feature a keynote speech with never before seen video of his epic journey along with pictures and an entertaining account of his adventure. This is the only opportunity to see this footage before it is handed over to editors and turned into a feature documentary to be released in late 2016.

“I want to share my story in a way that allows other veterans with injuries to relate There is hope after an injury, unfortunately most veterans lose that along the way. It is my mission (through VetConnect) to reconnect veterans with hope and to show them that there is life after injury” Zack Starr.

This event is to raise funds for VetConnect, a non-profit organization that is working to lower the suicide rate among veterans. Each year over 8,000 veterans commit suicide… Let’s join together as a community to help those who have served our country so well.

1stNoH 2

About Vet Connect


Connecting Veterans: A Collection of Success Stories and Inspiration.

Coming Soon… VetConnect will be the first interactive online community of Veterans Helping Veterans.  By collecting and sharing inspirational success stories of injured Veterans overcoming physical and mental challenges to move on and accomplish their goals in life, we will become an inspiration point for everyone.   There are a ton of Veteran sites available these days, but the ability for Veterans to go to ONE single location to find the support they need is long over due.  As a Veteran who has suffered from disability and depression myself, I know all too well that the red tape that is inevitably involved with Government agencies, can be counter productive to seeking care.  VetConnect will be a quick resource for Veterans to find the assistance and support that they need in ONE single location.  It will be a unified voice for Veterans and for their family members who are often forgot about in times of need.

In order to kick-start this campaign, I am setting off on an adventure to raise awareness.  Starting in April 2015 I will begin my thru hike of the Pacific Crest Trail (2,665 miles) to raise money for the building of this website.

Please click the following image to purchase a campaign t-shirt and read below for more information about the trip and about our vision to bring our community together.

VetConnect t_shirt

Fundraiser T-Shirt – $20 (Click here to purchase)

More about this campaign

“Unfortunately, we dropped a titanium screw in your shoulder joint, during surgery, which was unrecoverable.  But don’t worry, it won’t cause you any problems” – U.S. Military Doctors.  I was 19…

Well after a 5th shoulder surgery (Dec ’14) and the recent revelation that only a shoulder replacement would cure my pain level, it was obvious that they were wrong.  After over a decade of pain and surgeries, I was tired… I was tired of the pain, tired of inactivity and tired of letting this disability dictate my life.  So I decided to turn my love of hiking into a 2,665 mile thru hike of the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) to set an example that you don’t have to let physical ailments stop you from living.

The PCT is a trail that goes from Mexico to Canada as it passes through 25 national forests and 7 national parks.  I will be hiking the entire lengths of CA, OR and WA with nothing but a backpack, a tent and a water filter (and food of course).  Although less than 40% of those hikers attempting the PCT each year actually complete the entire trail, I will be attempting it with a shoulder that is less than complete.

But the reality is that my story, even after I finish my hike, is still only 1% as inspirational as that of so many other Veterans who have overcome far worse to achieve so much more.  It is true that there are many war stories of heroism that have been told, but there are just as many stories of veterans overcoming mental and physical injuries once they return home only to find successes that have gone unheard.  Through Vet Connect, it is my hope to bring these stories to light and to use these stories as inspiration for other Veterans to restore hope that they can move on past injury.

Not only will Vet Connect be an online source of inspiration (ala “Chicken Soup for the Soul”) but it will also provide a community of Veterans Helping Veterans where our Service Members and their families can go for much needed strategic and emotional support.

With your help, we can bring a positive light to the growing needs of our Veterans by providing hope and inspiration at a time when so many are lost or have simply given up.

For more information, or to follow my PCT thru hike please visit http://www.americanbrumby.wordpress.com/ www.AmericanBrumby.Wordpress.com