Reliable transportation is a necessity for most people – to get to work, to school, to the store, the doctor and a host of other destinations.
Sgt. Heriberto Cruz Meija works in the Joint Operations Center in Topeka, but lives in Eskridge. He is also a member of the 2nd Battalion, 235th Regiment, where he is a culinary specialist instructor. That means a drive to Salina every month.
When his car broke down during a winter storm, forcing him into a ditch, he found himself in a dilemma.
“The cost of repairing the car was more than I could afford to fix it,” he said.
That’s when the Family Readiness Program in Topeka heard of his situation and recommended him to the Cars4Heroes program. Cars4Heroes is a 501c3 organization that provides free basic transportation to veterans, active-duty military, first responders, and their families who are unable to obtain it on their own.
“Mission First, Family Always,” said Kenton Sallee, Soldier and Family Readiness Specialist. “Without support of the family, the Soldier struggles completing the mission. It is our job to take care of them both. The unit can only do so much. There are many programs out there that soldiers aren’t aware of; our job is to show them the way.”
Cars4Heroes presented Cruz with a 2007 Ford Focus on April 13. Cruz says it has been a help “beyond belief.”
“I am able to come to work without asking for help and inconveniencing my coworkers,” said Cruz, “and also able to support my family.
“But most importantly I’m able to take care of my son. He has special needs and goes to therapy almost every week,” said Cruz. “Since my fiancée works at the school it is hard for her to leave and take him, so I do it. And thanks to having this car, I am able to take him.”