Vets ‘n Vettes Matches a Vet with a Wounded Warrior

By Barbara Day, M.S., R.D., C.N.

My Facebook friend, April Kauffman, from New Jersey, invited me to Annual Vets ‘n Vettes three-day event which was held November 3 – 5 at the National Corvette Museum located in Bowling Green.  I had never toured the museum and was anxious to meet April, this human dynamo from New Jersey, so I attended the event and was able to check off both things on my bucket list.

Facebook Friends to Face-to-Face Friends!

April and I became  Facebook friends because I am an outspoken advocate for our military and their families.   I am a military advocate because of my work with the Navy SEALs and the fact that my husband is retired Army.  As a result, I have a unique insight into what’s happening in our military community and especially to our Wounded Warriors.

April volunteers regularly with the Wounded Warrior Project through the American Red Cross at Walter Reed Army Hospital in Bethesda, Maryland. When she was picking up her new corvette in Bowling Green at the plant, she learned about the Vets ‘n Vettes event which was conceived by retired Air Force Colonel Richard “Bull” Webster.   April thought the event would be a great way to get the wounded warriors away from their day to day grind of getting over their war-related injuries.

April’s first thought was to bring wounded warriors from Walter Reed Army Hospital now located in Bethesda, Maryland. But because of the cost, Plan B conceived. Plan B consisted of inviting wounded warriors from both Fort Campbell and Fort Knox. Even though Walter Reed Army Hospital may be the first stop in America for the wounded warrior from the Middle East, many end up at their current assignment locations receiving their much needed rehabilitation. Both Fort Campbell and Fort Knox military hospitals and out-patient clinics help care for the wounded warriors until they can transition back either into the military or into their community.

Wendell Strode, executive director of the National Corvette Museum, said the wounded warriors were matched with a veteran to tour around Bowling Green in an American-made corvette.

Strode said, “November is Military Appreciation Month at the National Corvette Museum and all military both active and retired get in free along with police, fire and EMTs.”

Break Bread Together & Learn About Active Military Today & in the Past

Veteran Bruce Goodrich from Charlotte, North Carolina sang our National Anthem.  What a great voice Bruce had! He also sang God Bless America and we all had an opportunity to recite the Pledge of Allegiance.

I sat with a table full of veterans from other wars and a wounded warrior, Staff Sgt. Lani Abalama. (see the story Freedom is NOT FREE: Up Front and Personal with Wounded Warrior Staff Sergeant Lani Abalama).  I was just listening to the conversation but the veterans were talking about their deployments. One veteran talked about how in Vietnam the gun he was given had a 50% misfire rate because of the dampness of environment. He ended up buying his own gun and taking that with him to Vietnam just in case. HUM! Staff Sgt. Abalama discussed the difference between the guns he used as a Marine vs. the guns he uses in the Army. (Staff Sergeant Abalama was in the Marines for 7 ½ years before he transferred to the Army).

The veterans asked him about the Humvees they used. He said they currently don’t use Humvees because they can only carry 5 soldiers. Staff Sgt. Abalama said they use a bigger, better mode of transportation which can carry more soldiers called the Cougar Mine Resistance Ambush Protected Vehicle. Soldiers can fire out of the vehicle without having to get out and risk being injured.

Wounded Warriors were asked to autograph a number of memobilia which would be auctioned off for Wounded Warrior Project. You can donate to the Wounded Warrior Project at

National Corvette Museum Offers More Programs for Wounded Warriors

The National Corvette Museum has added a number of events throughout the year to bring more wounded warriors to Bowling Green from both Fort Campbell and Fort Knox. They had events in May and in September. The September event included a FREE ticket to the Western Kentucky University’s Football game with Navy for the wounded warriors and also their family members, a museum tour, corvette plant tour and a catered lunch. Anything that can be done to show our appreciation for all active duty military and their families gets a thumbs up from me!

Barbara Day, M.S., R.D., C.N, is a registered dietitian ( who has been teaching healthy lifestyles strategies to consumers for over 35+ years. Check out Barbara’s new healthy lifestyles website: