Gift of cars gives veterans independence, peace of mind

Cars refurbished, donated to veterans as part of Key to Progress program

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Getting around town just got a little easier for two veterans who each received a car during a special ceremony at Caliber Collision on Jacksonville's Westside.

The two recycled cars were unveiled, and veterans Freddie Walker and Honor Parrish received the keys to their new rides on Thursday. The new car owners fought for our freedoms and the Keys to Progress program gave them theirs. 

News4Jax met Walker, a Marine Corp veteran, as he was getting comfortable in his new car with his son. Walker served 15 years as a Marine with multiple deployments to Iraq. He was medically discharged during combat -- suffering a brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder. Walker's wife also served in the Marine Corps and, with two children, the gift changes everything for his family.

"It would give us more freedom to move around and take the kids to all the things they need to go to," Walker said. "It’s going to make things a lot easier."

Parrish is a Navy veteran who worked on the flight lines in Jacksonville in the 1990s.

"Duties and responsibilities that usually a man would do, I was doing it and that adversely affected my health," Parish said. 

She has multiple debilitating medical conditions that prevent her from working a typical job and ended up losing her car. The gift gives her a new sense of independence and peace of mind.

"I would be able to go grocery shopping without asking anybody. I would be able to take my daughter to a National Honors Society meetings. I would be able to take my daughter to and from work without worrying about safety," Parrish said. "Even help other veterans."

The cars were from local auctions or salvage yards and were refurbished at Caliber Collision and then donated to the Walker and Parrish. In all, the Keys to Progress program plans to give 100 vehicles to veterans across the country this year.

Walker and Parrish were nominated through veteran charity organizations.

Caliber Collision, located across from Naval Air Station Jacksonville, worked with a long list of sponsors and partners such as Enterprise and Progressive to provide six months of free car insurance and a maintenance package.

Veterans Freddie Walker and Honor Parish hug after receiving their cars.