Tyler Hoffman is in Ventura County as part of a big adventure.
It’s a cross country, 8500 mile road trip which is an effort to call attention to the 1.8 million Americans who served their country in uniform, and received a purple heart because they were wounded or killed in action.
Hoffman is one of them. He was a Marine, serving in Afghanistan in 2010 when he was nearly lost his life. He was hit by a sniper, which left him paralyzed from the waist down.
The Jefferson City, Missouri man says nothing prepares you for such a life-altering injury. The 29 year old says he’s now focused on getting the most out of life. He’s driving a specially equipped truck on a leg of the 8500 mile road trip, which includes a stop at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley.
It’s called the 2017 Purple Heart Truck Run. The event is sponsored by two non-profit veterans support groups, the Military Order of the Purple Heart, and Wounded Warriors Family Support.
John Bircher is with the Military Order of the Purple Heart. The retiree is a 30 year Army veteran who was wounded in combat in Vietnam. Bircher shows us the centerpiece of this cross country trip, a bright purple Ford Raptor pickup truck that especially equipped for drivers with disabilities.
At the end of the trip crossing the country from Washington, D.C. to its ending in Dallas, Texas, August 13th, the truck will be presented to a purple heart recipient, Marshall Kennedy of Farmington, Arkansas, who was severely wounded by a bomb blast during his fourth tour of duty in Afghanistan.
The truck is covered with hundreds of handwritten comments in marking pen made by people along the truck run.
A Camarillo man is adding his comment. 94 year old Maury McGuire is a member of the Order of the Purple Heart. The Marine veteran was wounded in combat during World War II. He says he we need to remember the veterans who’ve fought, and sometimes died for their country.
Those involved in the truck run say they hope it helps other veterans realize they aren’t alone, and that there a number of non-profit groups which can help them and their families.
They say they want veterans with certain disabilities to know that the VA can provide assistance in buying specially equipped vehicles for them.