U.S. veterans now have more independence, thanks to an effort by Wells Fargo Auto and car dealerships from across the United States.
In November, in honor of Veterans Day and Veterans and Military Families Month, Wells Fargo sponsored the donation of free vehicles to combat-wounded veterans from the five branches of military service, according to a release from the lender.
Retired U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. George Campbell received a 2020 GMC Terrain; former U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer 2 Lucas Thompson was given a 2020 Honda Passport; former U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Jesse Odom was paired with a 2020 Nissan Frontier; retired U.S. Navy Hospital Corpsman Second Class Clint Haskell received a 2019 Honda Pilot, and retired U.S. Coast Guard Boatswains Mate Second Class Gilbert Benoit now drives a 2020 Nissan NV200.
“I’m very appreciative. Just having that little extra burden taken off of us … it makes a huge difference,” Sgt. Campbell said.
The donations are part of the Military Warriors Support Foundation’s Transportation4Heroes program, which provides a year of family and financial mentorship to veterans and Gold Star families. Once the recipient completes the program, the car’s title is turned over to the veteran.
The foundation identifies veterans in need of cars, and Wells Fargo works with dealerships to pair them with vehicles meeting their needs, such as cars with hand controls instead of foot pedals, Wells Fargo Auto spokeswoman Natalie Brown told Auto Finance News.
Participating dealerships this year were in New Jersey, Seattle, South Carolina and Texas. The dealerships and Wells Fargo typically split the cost of the vehicles, providing the veterans with a “sense of reliability and security,” Chris Bishop, head of change delivery for Wells Fargo Auto, told AFN.
The Transportation4Heroes program is about “much more than just a vehicle,” said Casey Kinser, executive vice president for Military Warriors Support Foundation. “It is about increased access to health care, to basic living essentials, and an increased feeling of independence.”
Since 2015, Wells Fargo has sponsored the donation of 40 vehicles to combat-wounded veterans, a value of more than $1 million, according to the company. This year, Wells has donated a total of 14 vehicles to veterans, including the five in November, Bishop said.
“We want to help create an environment where they can focus on returning to civilian life and build the foundation for a successful future for their entire family and these vehicles are a way to help do that,” said Laura Schupbach, head of Wells Fargo Auto.