SAN ANTONIO — Local military veterans were being honored in a big way Thursday. 10 local veterans nominated by several south Texas non-profits were gifted cars as a way to say thank you for their service.
USAA and Caliber Collision partnered with several local non-profits as part of the National Autobody Council's Recycled Rides Program. They say they aren't just fixing up cars, but restoring lives.
"I push the limits and, you know, I'll jump over curbs. I don't care. Election year last year, I ended up having- to the line went through the grass and down an awkward hill and just went through it anyways," said Jim Madison who is a 21-year veteran.
Thanks to USAA and all of their partners, he'll be able to get up a little easier. Madison told us, "I've got an expedition right now and I've fallen trying to get in and out of it countless times. The seat is broken into all kinds of pieces, but it had the perforated leather seats that got torn real quick.
Jason Curd, Caliber Collision's General Manager on the far west side told us, "Seeing what we do everyday, working on vehicles that are involved in an accident and seeing the strain that it puts on those families having a vehicle here, imagine someone that doesn't have a vehicle to start with or has a disability that can use a vehicle to suit them best. It's amazing."
Curd was a big part of getting Madison's Ford F-150 ready for the big reveal. He added, "This Ford has a seat that will swivel out, allowing the assisted driver to get in and out of it."
Ramon Lopez, USAA's Vice President of Insurance Claims said, "Our mission is to protect the financial services of military families. So it's important that we just show and demonstrate just how critical that is to us. And so not a better program to doing this for those who don't have vehicles to get around in."
Madison may have been dropped off at the ceremony by a friend this morning, but will drive home in an F-150. Madison said, "I just wanted to express my gratitude. With USAA, Caliber Collision, the Freedom Mobility Foundation, who paid for the transfer seat. And how grateful I am for it all."