Wounded Warriors Family Support donates vehicle to KBIC veterans

Kali Katerberg/Daily Mining Gazette Copper Country Ford owner and general manager David Johnson (center) shakes hands with Tribal Veterans Service Officer and KBIC Council Member Rodney Loonsfoot (left) before handing over the keys of a 2018 Ford Explorer XLT as Vice Commander George Decota (right) looks on.

HOUGHTON — Wounded Warriors Family Support recently donated a new vehicle to KBIC Veterans bringing their available vehicles up to two and improving veteran opportunities.

The keys to the new 2018 Ford Explorer XLT changed hands on Tuesday at Copper County Ford.

“We were lucky to be able to get this,” said Tribal Veterans Service Officer and KBIC Council Member Rodney Loonsfoot.

The vehicle will be used to transport veterans to appointments, events and community work like Toys for Tots. Previously the KBIC Veterans only had a large van that some veterans struggled to get in and out of according to Loonsfoot. The Explorer will be easier to access, pull equipment and be able to handle classic Keweenaw weather.

The new vehicle is a key part of Loonsfoot’s goal of expanding tribal veteran services.

“I’m the first tribal accredited veterans officer for our tribe in Michigan,” said Loonsfoot. “My goal was to expand veterans services for our tribe and going through working with the VA and the state of Michigan.”

Loonsfoot saw a clear need that he took upon himself to fill.

“There was kind of a disconnect between the tribes and the VA that there was an unmet need,” Loonsfoot said.

He saw a lack of understanding among tribal veterans about accessing benefits and understanding the resources available to them.

tries to help solve these needs according to Martin Duarte, assistant program director of outreach for the charity.

The organization focuses on improving mobility especially for appointments in rural areas, working with area Ford dealerships to get vehicles to organizations in need, Duarte explained.

“This new vehicle is the perfect Christmas gift,” Loonsfoot said.