Having the ability to drive is a freedom that many of us don’t question. Our vehicles are there to get us to work on time, pick the kids up from school, and take us on fun-filled summer road trips. The more we use them, the more our cars become extensions of ourselves. When this freedom is suddenly ripped away, it can feel like a devastating blow to our independence.
In the Veteran community, the loss of mobility due to injury sustained while serving is an unfortunate reality. That’s why Hope For The Warriors, a national non-profit organization dedicated to helping restore a sense of self for post-9/11 veterans and their loved ones, created a veteran-focused driving rehab program. Learn about how this CDS Dealers for Veterans partner is helping the military community regain mobility through Drive For Hope.
Restoring Independence to Those Who Serve
Many of us take the freedom to travel on our own schedule for granted. It becomes second nature to jump in our personal vehicle and drive to our favorite places whenever we get the urge. But for some of our nation’s heroes, injuries sustained while defending our freedoms cause them to lose the ability to operate a standard motor vehicle, making it difficult to carry out their daily routine.
In 2015, Hope For The Warriors started the Drive For Hope program. It was originally implemented to connect service members, veterans, and their families to NASCAR events across the country to help with boosting morale and networking. After talking with the military community and gaining a better understanding of their needs, we decided to revamp the program to leave a more lasting impact.
Recognizing a gap within the military and VA systems for adaptive vehicles and the proper training to operate them safely, we re-focused our efforts. In 2019, we partnered with the Driver Rehab Center of Excellence (DRCE) in Chantilly, VA. We began our journey of restoring individuality and driving independence in the military community through Drive For Hope.
DRCE is a civilian organization that started at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in 2008. To date, it is the first and only comprehensive driving rehab program in the Department of Defense designed to help wounded warriors who have adaptive mobility needs.
The partnership between HOPE and DRCE has been instrumental in addressing some of the most critical needs of our warrior community.
“If a service member sustains an injury during service, whether it be loss of limb, a traumatic brain injury, or PTSD, they may need vehicle modifications to drive safely,” said Drive For HOPE Case Manager Taylor Sturgill. “We aim to fill the gap in service and financial assistance to make this happen. We work with certified driving instructors to complete an evaluation of needs, make the necessary modifications, and even provide the training needed to operate the vehicle.”
Since March 2019, Drive For Hope has worked with 76 veterans, 55 of whom received direct financial assistance totaling $116,109.08.
“This is a very needs-specific program,” said Taylor. “We can connect with the military community about driving rehab in a way that makes them feel comfortable. It can be hard to find support, and we want our warrior families to know that we are here and understand their needs. We want to grow as they grow and hopefully provide a well-rounded amount of support by refereeing recipients to other programs and services within HOPE.”
About Dealers for Veterans
Dealers for Veterans is a non-profit program created by Connected Dealer Services with the goal of giving back to the veteran community by focusing on three pillars of need: employment services, wounded warriors and their families, and mental health and wellness. CDS is proud to support Hope For The Warriors and other veteran-centered organizations through a monthly donation system.
For each new dealership onboarded to the Elo GPS system, money will be allocated to the Dealers for Veterans fund. Each month, these funds are distributed equally amongst our partner organizations. For more information on the Dealers for Veterans program connect with our team today.