Robert J. Dole VA Medical Center
Veteran receives "lift" with VA support
Like so many others, Lawrence Limke joined the military in an effort to change his life. After serving in the Army for four years – time that included a six-month deployment to Iraq – he returned home to Oklahoma. Things really hadn’t changed, though; he found himself still disconnected from family, still struggling to find adequate employment, still “couch surfing” with friends and distant relatives around the Midwest to have a roof over his head.
In May 2019, he left Oklahoma to stay with a relative in Nebraska and hopefully find a decent job when yet another obstacle to success occurred - the transmission failed on Limke’s car as he drove through Kansas on I-35. He spent the next six months homeless in Wellington before finding his way to Wichita around Thanksgiving. He walked into the Robert J. Dole VA Medical Center one day and asked for help.
That decision changed his life.
Dole VA social workers immediately got Limke into a shelter. Kenneth Barker, Senior Social Worker with the VA’s HUD-VASH program, got Limke into housing. HUD-VASH is a collaborative program between U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Department of Veterans Affairs that combines HUD housing vouchers with VA supportive services.
Christopher Dendurent, Vocational Development Specialist, assisted Limke with securing a job.
“[My experience with the VA] has been nothing but positive,” Limke says. “If I ever have a question, an issue, a problem, all I do is call my VA rep and within a week or two it’s solved.”
Limke still had a major obstacle to overcome – he didn’t have transportation. He bemoans not having a vehicle. “I’ve got to walk everywhere I go, no matter what it is. Walking everywhere has been [difficult] on my feet.”
Enter Keys to Progress, a Progressive Insurance program that honors Veterans with vehicle donations. The one-day vehicle giveaway event happens every November and is a strong source of pride for everyone who works at Progressive. By providing transportation support, it is their hope to offer a little relief and improve the lives of military men and women facing tough circumstances.
Limke’s VA support team got him nominated for consideration, and the third-party selection committee decided he was a deserving recipient. Limke received his 2019 Nissan Sentra on November 5th, nearly a year to the day after walking into the VA and asking for help.
Enterprise Holdings, parent company of Enterprise Rent-A-Car, has partnered with Progressive in the Keys to Progress program since its inception eight years ago.
“Enterprise is very happy to be a part of this today. It’s a very special event,” said Cole Spedale, Regional Vice President for Enterprise. “The military and investing in our communities are two things we are very passionate about. Our founder, Jack Taylor, got our name from the USS Enterprise; he worked on it for six years in the Navy.” Enterprise also provides insurance coverage for the vehicle for the first six months.
Melissa Grissom, Rental Management Supervisor for Enterprise, said most people travel three to four places on a regular day.
“Being without transportation in a city like Wichita can be very difficult at times,” Grissom said.
Dole VA Social Worker Barker agreed with Grissom, adding that transportation gives Veterans a connection to the community and to support networks.
“We have lots of different opportunities in the community for Veterans to be connected, supported by other services, to be supported by friends and family. It (having transportation) is everything,” Barker said.
As for Army Veteran Limke, he summed up the impact of the gift of transportation by saying, “It’s going to help me live life.”