Edward Coates, a disabled Army veteran who served four tours of duty in the Iraq War, from which he received three Purple Hearts, is the Indiana recipient for our program with the Military Order of the Purple Heart. “I am so grateful for this generous gift,” said Edward Coates. “The repairs to my van from AAMCO will help me get back on my feet. This is a wonderful way to thank veterans for our service.”
Coates was nominated to participate by the MOPH department of Indiana. Mr. Coates is unemployed and has medical issues resulting from his combat service, but the condition of his 1999 Dodge van and financial situation prevented him from seeking a job and obtaining the medical care he needs. Coates picked up his newly-repaired vehicle Monday, November 12 from the AAMCO of Lafayette service center at 4210 Commerce Drive, where the services were provided free of charge by the local AAMCO dealer.
The van was inoperable, so AAMCO towed his van to the service center on Nov. 1 to make the necessary repairs. Ultimately, AAMCO replaced the van’s engine. AAMCO also replaced all necessary gaskets and seals, replaced all fluids and oil with new, and cleaned and adjusted the brakes.
“We are very happy to help a deserving military veteran like Mr. Coates,” said Tom Eden, owner of the AAMCO of Lafayette center. “Through AAMCO’s 50 Cars in 50 States program, we are thanking veterans for their service by helping them get back on the road with car repairs they really need.”
“Veterans Day is a great reminder of the sacrifice and service of all military veterans,” said Marc Graham, president and CEO of AAMCO Transmissions, Inc. “AAMCO is strongly committed to supporting America’s veterans everyday and that is the sentiment behind our 50 Cars in 50 States program.”
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Journal and Courier (Lafayette, IN)
50 Cars/50 States program solves transportation problem for a struggling veteran
December 27, 2012 | By MaryJane Slaby
Ed Coates wasn’t the lucky winner of a grand prize drawing. And the vehicle presented to him in November wasn’t new.
It was the red 1999 Dodge Caravan that he already owned.
But there was one difference from the last time he’d seen it. When Coates put the key in the ignition, it started.
“I was beyond happy to see my van fixed,” Coates said. A three-time recipient of the Purple Heart, he had deployed with the Army during Desert Storm once and Iraq twice and was injured each time.
Earlier this year, he was named a recipient of 50 Cars in 50 States, which is a partnership between AAMCO and the Military Order of the Purple Heart to repair vehicles of combat veterans.
In July, Coates and his wife, Teresa, were staying with friends in Lake Station when they decided to pack up their three daughters – ages 4, 2 and 1 – to move to Indianapolis. They hoped to find a house to make their home.
But about 90 miles later, the Dodge Caravan broke down in Lafayette.
After a two-month stay at the Salvation Army Family Emergency Shelter, Coates moved to the Indiana Veterans’ Home. His wife and daughters stayed with friends in Lafayette.
Every Monday, he rode three different buses to go see his family. It took 45 minutes.
When Coates received his working van on Nov. 12 – a Monday – he said the first place he went was to see his family. He drove.
Now he can pick up his daughters and see them every other day or every few days. He takes them to parks or on rare occasions, back to the veterans home. But he said his wife has left him, and he doesn’t know if she’ll be back.
Coates has been looking for a job since he returned to the United States in 2009, years before coming to Lafayette.
With his van, he can drive to submit applications and go on interviews. He said he has two interviews coming up.
He earns a small income from still serving in the National Guard, but he said most of it goes for diapers. And because of his time in combat and his injuries, he has constant ringing in his ears, short-term memory loss and isn’t allowed to lift more than 20 pounds, making it difficult for him to keep a job.
“I’ve been applying all around town,” he said. “I’ll do anything I can get.”
He’s considering going to stay with his parents in Tennessee, but if a job in Lafayette works out, Coates said he’d come back.
“And I’d rather be back up here in case my wife decides to come back,” he said.
Taking care of his family is Coates’s top priority.
“Ultimately, I want to be wherever I can have a job and feed my girls.”