Marty Klein started losing his vision to an eye disease in his 20s. His career as a U.S. Air Force meteorologist⁠—one he was passionate about and felt fulfilled by⁠—was effectively cut short. Marty’s identity was forged in military service and he struggled to find his place in the world. He eventually found mentors and friends who helped him rebuild his life.

“I just got lucky somewhere down the road. I fell into a few supportive environments and I managed to recreate my life as a person without sight,” Marty said. “It wasn’t easy, but I did it.”

Marty found that supportive community in Woodstock. He came a published author, a massage therapist and a yoga instructor, all the while continuing his advocacy work for the visually impaired.

When Marty learned an average of 22 veterans commit suicide each day, he was disturbed by it. Paula Mitchell, who nominated Marty for WPDH’s Vets Who Rock contest, said he knew he could have been among those numbers if he hadn’t received the support he needed at the critical juncture in his life when he was losing his vision and his military career was ending.

Marty wanted to ensure other veterans didn’t have to suffer and could find purpose and support networks. He decided to make a 52-minute documentary film titled Why Can’t We Serve.

“It’s my best attempt to try to help reduce the number of veteran suicides taking place in our country,” Marty said. “When soldiers come back with wounds from combat or on-the-job injuries, they have a disability and they’re forced to leave the military. They get a disability check but they are crushed because they have a desire to remain in the military, to serve, to have a purpose and to have a connection to that team.”

Why Can’t We Serve explores solutions to help disabled veterans struggling to acclimate to life outside of the military.

Marty’s dedication to helping other veterans is what makes him one of WPDH’s Vets Who Rock. He and other veterans who have been selected for a monthly prize will be in the running for a $10,000 grand prize to be awarded in November.

For more information on Marty and Why Can’t We Serve, visit whycantweserve.com.