Disabled veteran Scott Hicks’s 1965 Volkswagen Bug doesn’t conform to standard notions of automotive beauty. After all, it’s painted in a mélange of greens from mint to olive, has a rusty bumper and in the back window, a note is posted that reads: “Back Off It Doesn’t Go Any Faster!!!”
While the car isn’t your typical coveted hot rod, Hicks is using it to convey an important — and beautiful — message.
In response to his disgust over the recent revelations about the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) delays in treatment, which led to the deaths of dozens of veterans, Hicks launched a project — Inspire Veterans. “I was sick of hearing people talk about helping veterans but not doing anything to fix the problem,” Hicks told Dal Kasi of Fox Carolina.
His plan? The end of June, Hicks set out from Grants Pass, Oregon, in his Bug — named Patina — on a planned 10,000-mile road trip, stopping at veterans’ centers, war memorials, American landmarks, and VW car shows, to talk to anybody who’ll listen about the problems facing veterans today. As he makes his 38 planned stops, he invites local VW Bug owners to rally around Patina.
Hicks wants to call attention to the fact that 22 veterans commit suicide every day, a number he believes is exacerbated by the extensive wait times for appointments with VA doctors. And, as he notes in a video on his Inspire Veterans website, “that is the 2012 number, and the number is probably more like 24 veterans a day that are committing suicide, generally because of depressive disorders related to PTSD. That is a horrible number. I wish it wasn’t even one a day, but it’s a fact, and the government isn’t doing anything to help those soldiers that are coming back.”
Hicks is raising money to fund a documentary of this journey, which he says will capture veterans talking about their experiences and speaking about what kind of assistance they need. “Hopefully that will help the public and the government understand better what’s really going on…Most veterans don’t really like to speak out, but generally they’ll speak to another veteran. That’s why I’m doing this.”
So if you see a man driving a Bug of many colors and wearing a red-white-and-blue bandana while you’re out and about this summer, take a moment to listen and learn what you can do to help veterans.