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Wednesday, 22 August 2012 23:06

Wounded Veterans Rebuild Cars at Texas Shop

Located in San Antonio, TX near Brooke Army Medical Center, Automotivation is a program that helps restore the spirits and skills of wounded American military members by getting them back into the garage and into an environment where they can reconnect with their automotive passions.

Created in 2006 by founder Janis Roznowski and her team at Operation Comfort, a nonprofit group that supports wounded military members, the effort has been a tremendous success. The troops and program volunteers are engaged in a few projects, including building a Cobra kit car and finishing a Monster Garage resto-mod job on a former military weapons carrier.

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.


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