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Veteran Receives Vehicle at No Cost Through Life-Changing Wheels for Warriors Program


Expanded partnership between United Way of Long Island and Atlantic Auto Group provides veterans with the means to be self-sufficient and successful

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In a week honoring veterans, United Way of Long Island and the Atlantic Auto Group in West Islip continue to develop their partnership in support of the men and woman who have served our country, by expanding its Wheels for Warriors program.  Offering veterans the opportunity to own an affordable and reliable pre-owned vehicle, at no cost, the program will now be available to veterans on a year-round basis. Wheels for Warriors helps those that are dealing with transportation difficulties, gain independence and confidence by having consistent access to a vehicle of their own.  

Receiving this vehicle is a life-changing opportunity for Mark, the second veteran to benefit from this program. Mark is a U.S. Navy veteran who served during the Vietnam era. In 2008, Mark lost his job and the strain from years of financial difficulties and hardship resulted in losing his home, and wife and son. He stayed with family and friends, but found himself homeless. In 2015, he found respite through assistance programs through United Veterans Beacon House and has now gained full-time employment and a place to live. With his life back on track, travel has continued to be a struggle for Mark as he rides a bicycle to and from work. As the weather gets colder and the roads more hazardous, having a car of his own allows Mark to feel safe again.

“There are far too many veterans on Long Island struggling as they transition to civilian life,” said Theresa A. Regnante, President and CEO of United Way of Long Island. “Individuals who work hard and earn a living, but still have trouble affording basic necessities deserve our support. Wheels for Warriors is a program that provides veterans with that bit of help they need, allowing them to continue to strive for self-sufficiency and success.”

“Atlantic Auto Mall is proud to show our support for veterans on Long Island, and partnering with United Way on the Wheels for Warriors program allows us to honor those who served and protected our nation,” added Josiah Behlen, General Sales Manager of Atlantic Hyundai.

Participants in the program receive a warranty that includes yearly maintenance on the car and membership to United Way’s ‘Car Club’, which helps to educate the recipients on how to care and maintain for their vehicle and provides access to supportive services and referrals.

Atlantic Nissan and Hyundai are the official sponsors of the 2016 Mission United t-shirts, which provide United Way of Long Island an opportunity to increase support to veterans and their families as they transition to civilian life. Proceeds from these t-shirts support partner programs that assist with employment readiness, education, health, legal assistance, emergency financial aid, and housing for veterans.

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Photo caption: (L to R) Laurence Hedge, General Sales Manager of Atlantic Nissan and Josiah Behlen, General Sales Manager of Atlantic Hyundai, Mark, U.S. Navy veteran and recipient of a vehicle through United Way of Long Island’s Wheels for Warriors program, and Linda Gruskiewicz, Vice President, Leadership Giving, United Way of Long Island.