Michigan veterans’ mobility addressed at international auto show

Photo By Spc. Samantha Hall | U.S. Navy veteran Kimberly Kennedy speaks about challenges to disabled Michigan residents at the North American International Auto Show on January 15 at the Cobo Center in Detroit, Michigan. “Many times we don’t have transportation to get to doctor’s appointments, or, even if you wanted to go to the symphony, it wasn’t available for us to do,” Kennedy said. She said she’s hopeful the Michigan Mobility Challenge will improve this situation for veterans and the elderly and disabled across Michigan. Also pictured, left to right, are Paul Ajegba, Director of the Michigan Department of Transportation; Gretchen Whitmer, Governor of the State of Michigan; Jeff Mason, CEO of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, and Trevor Pawl, Group Vice President of PlanetM. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Spc. Samantha Hall)

DETROIT, MI, UNITED STATES

01.15.2019

Story by Spc. Samantha Hall

Michigan National Guard

Among the glamour of the auto industry’s past and present at the 2018 North American International Auto Show, a major announcement was made for the way disabled veterans like Kimberly Kennedy, a U.S. Navy veteran from Grand Rapids, will travel in the future.

“Many times we don’t have transportation to get to doctor’s appointments, or, even if you wanted to go to the symphony, it wasn’t available for us to do,” Kennedy said.

She recalled a time when a driver from a ride share company drove away as soon as they saw her in her wheelchair. Even with current programs, users often have a ride that is hours longer than necessary.

For veterans, the disabled and elderly, simply getting from place to place can be a daunting task.

Maj. Gen. Paul Rogers, the Adjutant General of the Michigan National Guard and Director of the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, was in attendance to support Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer as she announced the final round of grants for the $8 Million Michigan Mobility Challenge on January 15 at the press review of the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan.

Paul Ajegba, Director of the Michigan Department of Transportation, Jeff Mason, CEO of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, and Trevor Pawl, Group Vice President of PlanetM, joined her in the press announcement.

“We have the opportunity, and a responsibility, to advance our state’s technology and automotive landscape in a way that also improves the quality of life for countless individuals in Michigan,” Whitmer said.

This program, first launched in September of 2018, is meant to address the mobility gap that exists all over the state for veterans, persons with disabilities and the elderly through enhancing current services. These grants are designed to subsidize the costs of planning, delivering and monitoring proposed projects for a period of three to six months.

Whitmer continued that Michigan once again has the capability to lead the nation and world in transportation innovation.

“The work being done through the Michigan Mobility Challenge can offer a blueprint across the nation, show the world how to optimize mobility and transportation for citizens who may not have access to a self driving car, but who do need an affordable, reliable way to get through their daily lives.”

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