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NABC initiates $1.5 million plan to support military vets

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Oct. 25, 2012—The National Auto Body Council (NABC) recently announced a $1.5 million plan to provide an accredited I-CAR training curriculum and training facility for disabled military veterans through Operation Comfort’s Automotivation program.

Operation Comfort, based in San Antonio, is a nonprofit organization that provides financial and therapeutic assistance to wounded U.S. military members who are receiving treatment at the Brooke Army Medical Center (BAMC). Operation Comfort’s Automotivation program allows wounded service members to rehabilitate through automotive-related activities—such as rebuilding and restoring cars, trucks and motorcycles—as a form of occupational therapy and career replacement.

Although the Automotivation effort has been beneficial for military veterans, the NABC said the current program is not adequate to provide them with marketable skills. To help deliver employable skills in the collision industry, the NABC said it will raise $1.5 million in order to purchase, renovate and equip a 30,000-square-foot training facility for the program.

“To our knowledge no other industry-wide entity has made the effort to work directly with our wounded warriors to provide ongoing, industry-specific training,” said Chuck Sulkala, executive director of the NABC. “These men and women will receive instruction in collision repair, estimating, vehicle refinishing and other related topics toward the goal of preparing them for reentry into the civilian workforce, namely our industry.”

The new building will also become a host facility for several I-CAR classes offered in the San Antonio market.

“It is an honor for our organization to be involved in a project that brings all industry segments together to help those who have given so much for the peace we so dearly treasure,” said John Van Alstyne, president and CEO of I-CAR. “It is the very least we can do for these brave men and women who have sacrificed so much. We welcome them into our industry with arms wide open.”

The NABC said vehicles repaired through the Automotivation program will be donated to military families in the San Antonio market through its Recycled Rides initiative.

The NABC is currently seeking donations for the fundraising effort from collision repair industry associations, businesses, shops, individual professionals and customers. People who donate at least $100 will receive a commemorative dog tag and recognition on a permanent wall at the building site.

“Imagine the great sense of accomplishment these soldiers will receive from not only making a damaged vehicle whole, but by helping others in need,” Sulkala said. “We ask that everyone in the collision industry begin thinking about what you, your business, your employees and friends can do to help support Operation Comfort and the Automotivation program. This is not just an effort of the National Auto Body Council, but an effort on behalf of a grateful industry, and we need everyone’s help and support to get this accomplished now. What we are asking for compared to what they have already given is miniscule by comparison.”

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