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Easton Nonprofit Becomes A Driving Force For Wounded Veterans

Staff Sgt. Joel Tavera, U.S. Army is shown in a wheelchair accessible minivan Our Military Heroes in Easton provides to veterans that are wounded.
Staff Sgt. Joel Tavera, U.S. Army is shown in a wheelchair accessible minivan Our Military Heroes in Easton provides to veterans that are wounded. Photo Credit: Help Our Military Heroes website at www.helpourmilitaryheroes.org

TRUMBULL, Conn -- Help Our Military Heroes, an Easton organization that comes to the aid of wounded veterans in a unique way, has been awarded a $25,000 grant from Newman's own Foundation.

The group restores mobility, independence, and freedom to the country's traumatically wounded veterans, through grants for adaptive, wheelchair accessible minivans, Chairman of the Board Ted Hollander told Daily Voice.

Active duty service members and veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces who were wounded, injured or sickened while on active duty since the start of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars are eligible to receive help.

"Our typical minivan recipient is a multiple amputee, a victim of a spinal cord injury, or suffering from traumatic brain injury, or a wasting disease such as ALS," Hollander said.

"Recipients both need and desire ramp-entry minivans that allow almost all, to once again, drive independently, without the aid of their spouses, parents, or caregivers."

The grant money will be used to buy fully adaptive, ramp entry minivans, said Hollander.

"We (HOMH) pay all overhead, administrative, non-program expenses, so 100 percent of all donations go toward our programs."

Help Our Military Heroes strives to make sure after using their Veterans Administration benefits, the van recipients don't incur out-of-pocket expenses for their vehicles.The average van costs $22,000.

One van recipient is U.S. Marine Corps veteran Josh Himan, who suffered a severe spinal cord jury after being thrown from his Humvee when it hit a roadside bomb, leaving him a quadriplegic.

Himan is now driving an adaptive Toyota minivan, provided by HOMH, with a side entry ramp, allowing him the ability to go where he wants, when he wants without help from others, said Hollander.

In addition, Himan recently started an adaptive mobility business in Virginia with his former therapist, driver and rehab instructor from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

His example illustrates the importance of having the "regained mobility and freedom," the van provides.

Help Our Military Heroes is one of six Connecticut nonprofits to receive the grants, $365,000 in total, from Newman's own Foundation.

The grants are being given to support the education and career goals of returning service members.

Newman’s Own Foundation is awarding a total of $1.5 million in grants to more than 20 organizations that support veterans, said an announcement.

Click here for more information on Help Our Military Heroes.

Click here for more information  on Newman's Own Foundation's support of veterans programs and a complete list of the latest veterans grantees.

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