Thanks to a program called Segs4Vets, more than two dozen severely wounded veterans received their very own Segways Wednesday during a special event aboard the USS Midway.
The event – organized by Disability Rights Advocates for Technology (DRAFT) – included a ceremony in which 26 wounded warriors were each given their own personal mobility device.
DRAFT says each recipient of a Segway sustained injuries in combat either in Iraq or Afghanistan, many from improvised explosive device blasts. These veterans suffered leg amputation, soft tissue damage, spinal cord injuries and severe orthopedic and neurological damage while serving.
DRAFT says their Segs4Vets program is meant to give these veterans a newfound level of mobility and independence that’s not always achieved by a traditional wheelchair. The Segway giveaway is also a small way to thank disabled military service members for the major sacrifices they’ve made for our country.
Recipients at Wednesday’s event were thankful for their new mobility devices.
Marine Chris Vanetten, who served two deployments and lost both legs after stepping on an IED during a foot patrol, told NBC 7 his new Segway would allow him to move around with more ease and play with his dog.
“I have a dog at home that loves to run, so this Segway is going to help me out a lot in keeping up with her. This means a lot,” said Vanetten.
It will also help him enjoy the sights in comfort.
“I can go down to the bay and actually enjoy the scenery instead of just thinking about how much my legs hurt and trying to find the next bench to sit down on,” said Vanetten. “I mean, this [Segway] is a life-changer.”
Veteran Scott Schroeder, who lost both his legs when his unit’s military vehicle rolled over an IED, told NBC 7 he’s excited to take his new ride out for a spin..
More importantly, Schroeder, who now has prosthetics, says the Segway will make it easier for him to move around and play with his kids.
“I can’t wait to break it out, go around the yard, go around the block. The mental aspect of this can’t be understood – to be able to go out and do these things again," he said.
According to DRAFT, Segs4Vets received a blanket waiver from the Pentagon in 2006 allowing the non-profit organization to donate Segways to military personnel. Since then, the organization has given more than 1,000 Segways to disabled warriors and to military rehabilitation facilities in San Diego, Washington, D.C., and San Antonio.
These latest veterans to receive Segways in San Diego were trained on their new mobility devices earlier this week by DRAFT founders who are skilled Segway users despite their own disabilities.
To find out more about DRAFT and their Segs4Vets program, visit this website.
To donate funds toward the purchase of Segways for wounded veterans click here.