Webster Legion surprises veteran with “new” car

30 Nov
meeting

US Army veteran Brandi Christie with her new minivan. 

When US Army veteran Brandi Christie and her children were invited to a family-friendly veterans’ event Thursday night at Webster’s Cottreall-Warner American Legion Post #942, she thought she was just going to watch her favorite band perform.

The Sons of the American Legion had a different idea. By the end of the night, Brandi had been handed the keys to a newly refurbished 2008 Nissan Quest minivan.

The donation was the culmination of a partnership between the Sons and a terrific organization called Operation Build Up. Based in Conesus, Operation Build Up is dedicated to preventing veteran homelessness and suicides.

According to Justin Cogswell, the organization’s founder, “We want to help veterans in their darkest moments. When they trip and fall, we as a country should work to help them up.”

One of the main ways Operation Build Up accomplishes that is by purchasing (or receiving in donations) used cars, fixing them up, making them road-worthy, then giving them to veterans in need. They typically rebuild three to four vehicles a month, spending upwards of $800 — and hundreds of volunteer hours — on each one.

The Sons began working with Operation Build Up about a month ago, when member Bill VerHagen invited Cogswell to one of their meetings to talk about his organization.

Sons Commander Nate Burdick remembered the meeting.

“We wrote a $1,000 check right then, then everyone went home and donated more,” he said. Immediately after that meeting, the post’s Auxiliary Unit donated another $1,000 to help with future builds.

Working hand-in-hand with Operation Build Up fits perfectly with the Sons’ mission, Burdick said.

“The Sons of the American Legion are directly trying to touch any veteran in any way we can to support them. It’s veterans doing work for veterans, It was a perfect storm for what we are trying to do.”

Thursday night’s presentation was especially timely for Brandi. A 15-year veteran of the US Army, she still serves in the Army Reserve. But her family recently lost their vehicle, so she’s been missing the required drills.

In addition to the minivan, the Sons also handed Brandi a check for $500, so she didn’t even have to worry about paying for registration and insurance.

Brandi’s four young children weren’t forgotten, either.  As they scrambled into the back seats of their spacious new minivan, her daughter and three sons each discovered a stuffed dog and stuffed Christmas stocking awaiting them.

After finally accepting that she wasn’t dreaming, Brandi had but one question when she saw her the vehicle for the first time. True to the selfless nature of all veterans, she asked through happy tears, “Is there something we can do to pay you back?”

“No, you don’t need to do anything,” Cogswell answered. “This is America right here.”

* * *

Learn more about Operation Build Up and find out how you can help this great organization support our veterans in need. Visit www.operationbuildup.com 

 

 

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