Showers grew up in Osceola Mills, PA, a town of some 1,200 people 20 miles west of State College, PA in central PA. He enlisted in 1975, one year after graduating from high school.
“I was doing landscaping at Penn State, and came across a recruiter at my county fair. He said, with the Army, I could receive training and see the world, so I signed up. My father said it would do me good. And it did.
“I was a hothead when I got out of high school. What the Army taught me was discipline and confidence, and it helped me realize that I can do anything I put my mind to. It taught me leadership skills and how to manage any situation.”
Showers said he never served in combat, although he had orders to deploy to Iraq during the first Gulf War that were changed at the last minute. “You never know where they’re going to send you, and you’re always prepared to go wherever they need you.”
Nevertheless, even in combat-free zones, Showers was called on many times to save lives in Army hospital emergency rooms. “We had victims of accidents, shootings and stabbings,” he says. While posted at Fort Dix, New Jersey, he helped to treat 11 soldiers who were injured when a hand grenade accidentally exploded in a training classroom.
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While at Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque, NM, he was trained to treat victims of nuclear attacks and accidents as well as chemical and biological weapons. “We trained with live agents,” he said.
Even when not serving in combat, military life is stressful for families, Showers noted. “Either your family has to pick up and move constantly to places where they don’t know anybody, or they stay behind, and then the wives have do everything themselves and survive on what’s left of your paycheck or go to work. It’s a great strain. It’s why so many military families receive food stamps, and the reason the divorce rate is so high among career military personnel.”
On that score, Showers speaks from personal experience: He was divorced three times while serving in the military. He met his current wife, who is also a nurse, while both worked in the same nursing home where Showers was employed after retiring from the Army and earning his bachelor’s degree in health administration at Arcadia University in Glenside, PA.
Showers made a career change last year, when he bought a Minuteman Press printing franchise in Newtown, PA. Several weeks ago, his truck was smacked by a hit-and-run driver in a Newtown shopping center parking lot. His wife, Lois, nominated him for the Metal of Honor award after the couple found out that they were going to have to pay for the repairs themselves because of their insurance policy deductible.
“I’m just getting this business going, so this repair is really coming in handy,” he said.
Through its Metal of Honor Project, now in its second year, CollisionMax gives away auto body repairs to US military veterans, one per month for each of its locations in the Delaware Valley. The company selects the winners from nominations it receives from the public on the project’s web site, http://www.metalofhonorproject.com.
“The Metal of Honor Project is our way of saying thank you and honoring the men and women of our armed forces who put their lives on the line for all of us,” said Jim Tornetta, CollisionMax president and CEO.
In New Jersey, CollisionMax operates shops in Blackwood, Cinnaminson, Glassboro, Marlton, Pennsauken, Sicklerville and Westmont. In Pennsylvania, it has repair centers in Oxford Valley, Warminster and two in Northeast Philadelphia (both on West Grant Avenue). For information about CollisionMax, please visit: