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Our interview with Chris Kreiger, founder of WNY Heroes

Chris Kreiger, founder of WNY Heroes, is an inspiring person and veteran in Western New York who has dedicated his life to helping other veterans.

Chris Kreiger, founder of WNY Heroes, is an inspiring person and veteran in Western New York who has dedicated his life to helping other veterans. WNY Heroes is a veterans’ assistance organization that provides help to veterans at a time they need it most.

Kreiger knows firsthand how it feels to come home from fighting for our country, only to face physical and financial hardships. It took two years for Kreiger, who suffered extensive injuries from his tour in Iraq, to receive disability pay when he returned to the states. In the meantime, his family lost their home. But instead of feeling defeated, he decided to do something to make a difference.

Here Kreiger shares his mission.

Q: What gave you the strength to stand up and fight for other veterans? You could have given up when it seemed all hope was lost, but you decided to do something to help others.

A: Anger is what gave me the strength to fight. It wasn’t even a matter of what they did to me, it was what they did to my kids. You striped me of the last of my dignity, took our home, we lost it all. I was promised 100 percent service connection while I was laid up due to my injuries and then denied. Banks didn’t want to hear it, we went from owning our home to renting again. The kids went from doing what they wanted to do, when they wanted to do it, to you can’t do this and you can’t do that. It angered me to the point that I began hammering the government in the paper, on television and radio, even Readers Digest did a story on what happened.

A2: After being sent to a Poly-Trauma Brain Center in Richmond Va., seeing and talking to many other veterans there and hearing that they too had the same things happen, I knew I wasn’t alone. There had to be something I could do to make sure that this didn’t continue, but what? So after returning home to WNY, that is when WNYHeroes, Inc. started. Our mission is to restore that dignity for our men/women who served, gave their all and when the government failed them, we are there to pick them up and restore that dignity. Making sure that our veterans remain in their homes and are able to keep their utilities on. Making sure they are ALL given a Thanksgiving or Christmas they DESERVE. We have so many programs now and we continue to grow.

Q: Why do you think veterans are turned away at a time they need their country most?

A: Our government is filled with “Red Tape” upon returning home, the next fight is with our own government for what is deserved. Many veterans are denied their benefits. With some, it starts with separation from the military and your discharge papers (DD-214) being wrong. For many of our veterans, this too can be a huge life changing event, making you lose everything we call the American dream. Meaning, you lose your home, car and more, all because of injuries. Your family then begins to build resentment towards you. You are promised the world if you sign on the dotted line. For many who join the military, the military becomes your family, your life and that is all you know. Then you’re told your carrier is over and you now have to leave. They put you through basic training to build you into this fighting machine, but there is no basic training to return you to civilization. No assistance to re-acclimate you back to your community.

Q: Has there been a particular time when WNY Heroes helped a veteran in need that touched your heart the most?

A: To be honest, every veteran and family we assist here is heart touching. We get veterans all the time that will state, they have been denied/turned away everywhere else they have gone. There are organizations out there who claim to do what we do here and they don’t. We pride ourselves and walk tall here knowing that we truly are here to help those who gave their all to our grateful nation. Now, with that being said, can we honestly say we assist or have assisted EVERYONE who came to us too? No! That would be lying, but the number of veterans we have helped in WNY are true and never have had to fudge them to show otherwise.

Q: What can the community do to help? And what would you like them to know about WNY Heroes that they might not already know?

A: We cannot do this without our community walking with us in this journey. We don’t want you walking behind us, we NEED you right next to us. WNYHeroes, Inc. doesn’t receive a dime of government subsidy, we operate solely off of donations and fundraising. We need the community support. Each year, we strive to hand out more funding then what we assisted with the previous year.  Last year 2016 we came very close to more then $130,000 is assistance for our veterans. Already for 2017, we have assisted with more then $80,000 and we are only five months into 2017. It is our guaranteed promise that 100 percent of ALL funds remain right here in WNY. We have been asked to consider, think about making the move to go national, but if we did, then we are no different than those who are national. Our overhead costs are way down when compared to national ones. Your donation might be the dollar that assists your neighbor, friend, or family member.

Q: What makes WNY Heroes so unique? 

A: For many, the community today doesn’t realize that it takes a family as a whole to serve our nation. Years past, it was the veteran him/herself, which is why so many offer things for just the veteran. Again, here, we believe that it takes the entire family to serve this country now. Our programs are designed to assist the entire family, not just the veteran. WNYHeroes has gained much recognition even beyond WNY for the amount of work we do. We have been asked and begged to come to other states and show them how to start a grass roots organization like ours. For many other states, they have nothing like this there for our veterans.

For more information on WNY Heroes, visit or follow WNY Heroes on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.


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