Retired Army Sgt. Chris Leverkuhn runs the program and knows about cars, pain and healing. An avid wrench-turner as a teen Indiana, he joined the Army in 2003 and deployed to Iraq. In 2004, he was hit by a roadside bomb while driving a fuel truck and became one of the war’s early amputees, losing his right leg below the knee while sustaining multiple burns. His fellow soldier, Spc. Luke Frist, didn’t survive the blast.
So when wounded veterans facing immense physical and mental challenges in their healing reach out to Leverkuhn for a wrench or a project, they don’t have to tell him their story. He knows. That’s why the program is so successful; healing comes amid the camaraderie of shared experiences and among the common love of the machines.
This year, the program was forced to move unexpectedly from its previous donated shop. The group hopes to find a permanent home in a former General Motors warehouse in San Antonio if the funds can be raised to purchase the building and equipment donations are secured. The National Auto Body Council (NABC) has stepped up to lead the fundraising drive within the automotive industry. Sherwin-Williams has joined to help with the shop layout.