Another U.S. military service veteran is going to receive a Jeep from Westbury Auto Group this fall as the New York dealer's "Great American Jeep Give-away" enters its third year.
It's important for Westbury Auto Group, and other such community stakeholders, to support and engage in such efforts that help make their local area a better place to live, Westbury Jeep Chrysler Dodge General Manager Keith Donnelly said during a Mega Dealer News telephone interview.
"Absolutely, we need to do more," Donnelly said. "Once you start getting involved, other communities start coming together with other agencies, and then they start calling you."
The son of a military service veteran, Donnelly said, "We're going to find the veteran who needs it and we're going to give them a Jeep."
Westbury Jeep Chrysler Dodge is a five-star group of six dealerships in Long Island, New York, with a seventh expected in a couple of months, according to information on the company website.
Getting a veteran who needs it into a Jeep is the basic premise of its Great American Jeep Give-away, but the effort also helps other area veterans and raises awareness for the needs of those members in the community, Donnelly said.
Westbury Auto Group will reach out to community members, local non-profits, veterans' agencies and others for nominations to find this year's veteran who will receive a Jeep during the annual Salute to Heroes Concert at the Pennysaver Amphitheater in Farmingville, New York, Donnelly said.
In addition to seeking those nominations, Westbury Auto Group will again set up donation boxes at its dealerships to collect items throughout the summer for the benefit of veterans in need.
In previous years, those donations have included basic everyday needs, such as coats, new socks and hygiene products, which then have been turned over to Services for the Underserved and Suffolk County United Veterans for appropriate distribution.
Meanwhile, a panel of Westbury Auto Group principals, local business representatives and media figures will again have the difficult task of selecting who among the many nominated will come in for an interview. Donnelly said the stories the panel heard in past years have stuck with him.
He recalled one veteran who ultimately received a Jeep.
"A young lady," Donnelly said. "She was in the military, she and her husband both were in the military. She came home, had a baby. And then (the husband) was killed in Afghanistan."
The military veteran who received a Jeep during the most recent event also had a touching story to tell, Donnelly said.
"Last year, we had a young man who had just come back and he has PTSD," Donnelly recalled. "When he came in, he was really shaky and was a little nervous. Then he told us his story, how an agency helped him and he works for them now. He met a girl; he has a little boy; his life has straightened out."
What this veteran needed was a ride, "a way to get back and forth to work," Donnelly said. The veteran often had to wait two hours for a ride to and from work, Donnelly said.
"He was just a perfect person for this Jeep, so we gave it to him," Donnelly said.
Finding another perfect person will be the task of this year's panel, which will select 10 finalists, all of whom will be Westbury Auto Group guests during the concert, Donnelly said.
More than anything, the effort is about doing something right for all the right reasons, Donnelly said.
"There are a lot of people out there, a lot of agencies who care," he said. "It's good to bring them all together."