If you’ve ever ridden in a golf car or cart, you know that it’s a nice way to roll up to the next tee. But for veterans and active duty service members and their families undergoing treatment at Department of Defense and Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Centers, these vehicles are a valuable and needed mode of transportation. Because of specialized transportation needs, many veterans and their elderly family members are unable to make the journey around a VA hospital campus.
That’s why “Tee It Up for the Troops” partnered with Textron Specialized Vehicles Inc., Providence, Rhode Island, a Textron Inc. company and the manufacturer of E-Z-GO vehicles, to donate customized vehicles to Fisher House, a foundation that provides comfort homes where military and veteran families can stay free of charge. Tee It Up for the Troops has donated a battalion of E-Z-GO vehicles to Fisher House facilities nationwide, with the 20th new ride having just been delivered to the VA’s Palo Alto Healthcare System in California.
For the last seven years, Tee It Up for the Troops and E-Z-GO, in partnership with E-Z-GO distributor Versatile Vehicles of Prior Lake, Minnesota, have delivered several vehicles a year to Fisher Houses across the nation. The first was delivered to the Augusta, Georgia, VA Medical Center in 2012, with others reaching Walter Reed Medical Center in Maryland, Camp Pendleton in California and Fisher Houses in Milwaukee and Minneapolis.
“Tee It Up for the Troops has been there for us and has provided a vehicle to every one of our houses on a VA property that has needed one,” says Brian Gawne, vice president of community relations for the Fisher House Foundation. “Parking and getting around on a VA campus is always a challenge, and some families are not mobile. Thanks to Tee It Up for the Troops and E-Z-GO, these cars are a godsend when families are facing a tough medical crisis.”
“Recently we had a veteran discharged from the hospital after kidney removal surgery, and it would have been extremely painful for him to bend into a vehicle to get back to Fisher House,” said Jenny Hall, manager of the Alaska Fisher House. “The golf car allowed him to easily slide in and out at a comfortable height with minimal pain.”
“Electric shuttles that are quiet and efficient can take a whole family or an injured warfighter from a Fisher House around the campus to receive therapy or see a doctor,” said Brandon Haddock, director, communications at Textron Specialized Vehicles. “The vehicles can traverse facility paths, parking lots and even the entry of a VA hospital. It’s great to see how excited people are about the shuttles and to give the veterans something they really need.”
“These stretch electric shuttles, which can comfortably accommodate six passengers, are customized with many added features for the comfort and safety of veterans,” says Versatile Vehicles owner Gaby Accad, whose distributorship customizes many of the Fisher House vehicles. Additions include safety lights, turn signals, a rear seat that can convert to a flatbed to carry a wheelchair or other equipment and a retractable windshield for blocking wind and rain.
Accad works with local companies to donate custom features such as red, white and blue premium seats embroidered with the Tee It Up for the Troops logo and decals that are applied to the custom-painted cars. Shipping companies have also donated or reduced their rates for sending the cars to their destinations.
“What this country has provided to me, it’s the least I can do for our soldiers who put their lives on the line for us to enjoy our freedom and the things we cherish in this country,” Accad says.
“It’s great teaming up with E-Z-GO and working together to make our heroes’ lives better,” said Tim Wegscheid, president and executive director of Tee It Up for the Troops. “I truly believe our veterans and their families are entitled to be taken care of, and donating these vehicles is just one way we do that.”
Tee It Up for the Troops has hosted 500 fundraising events in over 40 states over the last 15 years, allowing the nonprofit organization to donate over $10 million to military service organizations that provide critically needed services to combat veterans and their families.
Tee It Up for the Troops and E-Z-GO first learned of the need for a small, efficient vehicle to transport wounded warriors in 2011, when they shipped a vehicle to a military base in Afghanistan to help get soldiers to field hospitals as well as move those recovering from injuries around the base.
“This is just a continuation of our support for veterans who do incredible things for our country,” Wegscheid said of the vehicles.
Based in Burnsville, Minnesota, Tee it Up for the Troops inspires communities across the country to organize golf events to raise funds for partnering veterans service organizations who deliver critically needed services to military families. The organization has hosted over 475 events in more than 40 states and has donated over $10 million to more than 335 organizations serving veterans across the country.
In addition, through its Reunion initiative, Tee It Up for the Troops has reunited more than 300 combat-altered veterans who were separated due to battlefield injuries or changes in rehabilitation status. For more information visit: www.teeitupforthetroops.org.
Tee It Up for the Troops targets its support toward both adaptive and rehabilitative; family and caregiver support and housing.
Textron Inc. is a multi-industry company with a global network of aircraft, defense, industrial and finance businesses.Its brands include Bell, Cessna, Beechcraft, Hawker, Jacobsen, Kautex, Lycoming, E-Z-GO, Arctic Cat, Textron Systems and TRU Simulation + Training.