How It Began
In the spring of 2014, our Founder, Vince Gibson had just finished the restoration of a 1969 El Camino and was shopping at a local department store here in Bremen, GA. As any of you know, when you own a classic car, and are stopped anywhere, you are always being approached by folks asking questions and wanting to chat about it. So Vince wasn’t surprised to come out and find a young man in a wheel chair wheeling around the El Camino giving it a good look.
The two men chatted about the car, the young man’s injury’s (he had lost both legs in an IED explosion in Afghanistan) and experience in the military and life in general. As the two men shook hands and said their goodbyes, the young man commented “Boy, I wish I could have a cool old car like that.” Vince thought to himself, “Why couldn’t he?” He began mulling it over in his mind as he drove home about how they could rig up hand controls, a chair lift etc. and get that young man rolling in a classic. So a few days later, Vince talked it over with his best friend Scott Jones, who thought it was a great idea.
So the American Warrior Garage was born. Incorporation papers were filed, a board of directors was formed and application for a 501 (c) (3) exemption was submitted. Vince’s only stipulation was, that all the folks involved in the initiative should be Military Veterans, so the program was “By Vets, for Vets.” They rented a small 1200 square foot shop and they were off and running!
The original concept of helping injured vets get back to driving, quickly morphed into teaching them the basics of automotive technology, welding and metal fabrication, automotive electrics and all the basics of automotive restoration and maintenance.
The guys jumped in with both feet and began fundraising with trips to regional car shows, and other automotive events, speaking to businesses, local chamber of commerce’s etc., anywhere they could get donations to keep the initiative alive.
Well it has been a roller coaster ride in the years since. We are now in a larger space and are looking forward to a bright future.
As funding allows, we will provide on-the-job training to Veteran Apprentices in Welding, Metal Fabrication, Body work, Rust repair, Automotive electronics, and Mechanics.
For those veteran apprentices who show aptitude and desire we will provide scholarships to trade schools like WyoTech or Lincoln Tech so they can pursue a career in automotive technology, Motorcycle mechanics or Marine mechanics.
We will supply mental health counseling for our veteran apprentices who might be affected by PTSD or injury related depression.
We also provide Retrofitting services to veterans who need their vehicle modified for hand controls, wheelchair lifts etc., whatever it takes to enable the vet to operate the vehicle. We can also provide service facilities for vets who want to perform general maintenance on their own vehicles but don’t have the means since their injury.
We are an organization of veterans working for veterans, and we are dedicated to providing the highest quality training and workmanship.