FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 16, 2021
Contact: David Green
State Adjutant 608 221-5276
Wisconsin VFW Announces Recipient of Lonnie’s Van
Madison— State Commander Jason Johns
and Marilyn Grau will present Lonnie’s Van
to Iraq War Veteran, Alan Lewis of Milwaukee at Wisconsin’s 100th
annual State Convention in Green Bay. On July 16, 2003, while serving with the U.S. Army’s 3rd
Infantry Division, Alan was conducting a patrol mission in Baghdad when the Humvee he was riding in hit an anti-tank landmine. He suffered severe facial and body burns, damage to his left eye, a severely fractured left forearm, and the severity of injury to his lower body required the amputation of both his legs.
While recovering at Walter Reed Medical Center, Alan met a Vietnam veteran who was also a double amputee and who introduced him to adaptive sports. Since then, Alan has been an active player in numerous competitive adaptive sports competing nationally in wheelchair lacrosse, basketball, handcycling, snowboarding, weightlifting, and is a regular player on the Wounded Warriors Amputee Football team. Alan plans to use Lonnie’s Van not only for his own personal independence but to transport other veterans to wheelchair sporting events to provide them with an opportunity for continued healing that they may not otherwise be able to be a part of. "My greatest achievement is providing a strong foundation for my family and raising two beautiful children. Faith, family, and country helped me heal not only physically, but emotionally, spiritually, and mentally. The support that I have received from the veteran community has been exceptional and receiving this wonderful gift of Lonnie’s Van is a great example of how no one does more for veterans than the VFW,” says Alan, himself a life member of the Lance P. Sijan MOH Post 12100 in Milwaukee.
Lonnie’s Van, a 2018 Chrysler Pacifica with less than 1500 miles on it, has been equipped with full accommodations for use by any severely disabled driver and was donated to the Wisconsin VFW Foundation in late 2020 by Lonnie’s wife of 51 years, Marilyn. Lonnie, a Vietnam Veteran, who was wheelchair-bound due to complications from surgery in 2006, passed away in March 2020 due to Agent-Orange-related causes.
VFW State Commander Jason Johns stated, "When Mrs. Grau contacted me and asked if I could help her find a severely disabled veteran in the state who could truly benefit from the same independence and freedom that Lonnie got from this van, I made it a personal priority mission to see that the VFW was able to do so. I am thrilled to be gifting the keys to just such a veteran in Alan Lewis.”
All Media is invited to attend the presentation
Wisconsin’s 100th annual State Convention in Green Bay
When: June 25, 2021
Time: 3:00 - 3:30
Note: Please arrive by 3:00 as we will have the van escorted in by the VFW Riders of Wisconsin and Marilyn (Lonnie's wife) and their children and grandchildren will be present, as will Alan (the recipient), his wife, and his two children.
After the event, Commander Jason E. Johns, Marilyn Grau, and Alan Lewis will be available for interviews.