Advancing National Service

Meet A Disabled Veteran Jump Starting Soldiers’ Cars — and Their Lives

June 5, 2014
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Meet A Disabled Veteran Jump Starting Soldiers’ Cars — and Their Lives
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Forget AAA. If you're a cash-strapped vet with a broken-down vehicle, Larry Mendivil is the man to call.

A little help can go a long way for those in need — especially if they’re veterans struggling to find jobs and readjust to civilian life.

Which is exactly why North Dakota Air Force veteran Larry Mendivil is offering free car repairs to any soldier who needs them. Mendivil knows his way around a socket wrench — he served as a senior airman with the 319th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron at Grand Forks Air Force Base in North Dakota, and now he’s applying the fix-it skills he developed there to four-wheeled vehicles.

Last year, he started the Miracles for Vets out of his home’s garage. The nonprofit raises money to fund car repairs and collects donated parts and tools, while several professional car mechanics offer their time and skills to make repairs.

What inspired Mendivil to help other vets? He suffered a disability related to a refueling accident, so after he returned from Iraq in 2007 unable to reenlist, he set out to help other service members — following the Air Force motto of “Service Before Self.” “Even as a disabled veteran everyone has a chance to make a difference,” Mendivil told Xavier Navarro of 319th Air Base Wing Public Affairs.

Over the next two weeks, Mendivil and his crew of volunteer gearheads are rotating to different garages in Harrisburg, North Dakota that have agreed to let him use their space and tools.

Mike Lewis, the owner of Ducks Auto Repair — where the Miracles crew was based last week — was glad to help the cause. “The veterans deserve to have some kind of positive reinforcement when they get back. They’re struggling to readjust from being overseas, they need somebody to help them out,” he told Eames Yates of Fox 43.

Mendivil told Austin Ashlock of the Grand Forks Herald that after he left the service, “I struggled a long time until Veterans Affairs was able to help me out. I was actually homeless for a little while.”

Making it even more special that the first thing that Mendivil did after getting back on his feet was help others.

MORE: Savvy Mechanics Help Disabled Veterans Hit the Open Road

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