Cars 4 Vets helps soldiers back on feet - The Explorer: Pima Pinal

Cars 4 Vets helps soldiers back on feet

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Posted: Wednesday, November 11, 2009 12:00 am | Updated: 1:25 pm, Mon Apr 18, 2011.

Vets returning from combat overseas often have a difficult time slipping back into civilian life. Sleeplessness, having a hard time fitting in, even divorce, are some of the common situations where vets find themselves.

Then there's homelessness.

But Clarence "Scotty" Scotton, an Iraq war vet himself, has a way to deal with some of those problems.

"Cars4Vets is our way to help homeless veterans reestablish their role in society by equipping them with the reliable transportation they need to locate and maintain gainful employment and education," Scotton said. "We deliver a 'hand up,' not a 'hand out' to these vets, and at the same time, help clean up the community of junked, broken-down and unwanted vehicles."

Scotton, who's in the process of filing for a limited liability corporation that would allow him to apply for a federal non-profit 501(c)3 designation, has partnered with the Vietnam Veterans of America to promote the Cars4Vets program.

"The way the program works is that I find old cars, get them donated to my group, fix them up if they can be fixed, and then donate them to vets who graduate from the traditional housing program operated by Esperanza en Escalante," Scotton said.

If a donated car can't be fixed, it goes to a recycling center, and the money Scotton gets for its parts is used to fix the next donated car.

Scotton served from 2004 to 2006. When he came back to the states to his then-home in Delaware, he underwent rehabilitation for arm and head injuries, as well as breathing problems and asthma. He decided to move to Arizona to better treat his asthma, and lined up a job and place to stay in Tucson. After he moved here, the job and home fell through, and Scotton became homeless.

He eventually made good friends with folks at a church, who donated a car to him to fix up. Soon, more car donations followed, with Scotton repairing the vehicles and giving them away to vets. His program grew from there.

"One of my gifts is that I'm able to fix cars," Scotton said. "People were very generous in donating cars, telling me, 'if you can fix it, you can have it.'"

The Cars4Vets program also is a training resource for homeless vets, Scotton noted.

"Vets in the Esperanza en Escalante traditional housing program can volunteer their time and learn a new trade or acquire new skills by helping us fix cars," he said.

Scotton has two Cars4Vets repair shops in Tucson, and hopes to expand nationally.

"I'd like to have a liaison in every state who can direct cars through a VA transitional program in that state," Scotton said. "I plan to visit each state and help them set up the necessary programs."

To donate to the Cars4Vets program, go to http://carsforvets.webs.com.

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