Hot cars, shiny chrome, draw crowds to fundraiser for 'Operation Restoring Veteran Hope'

Irene Cruz Image
Monday, May 27, 2024
Non-profit 'Operation Restoring Veteran Hope' inspires veterans
Cars lined Cesar Chavez Blvd. in Boyle Heights for the Armed Forces Day Paint and Chrome show. It's a big fundraiser for non-profit Operation Restoring Veteran Hope.

BOYLE HEIGHTS, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Dozens of car enthusiasts gathered in Boyle Heights to help veterans struggling with PTSD, addiction and other mental health issues. The event was hosted by a nonprofit whose mission is to inspire veterans to be hopeful about their future.

The cars lined Cesar Chavez Boulevard for the Armed Forces Day Paint and Chrome show. It's a big fundraiser for nonprofit Operation Restoring Veteran Hope.

"Isolation and self-medication recipe for disaster so getting out in the community - learning how to live life again is what it's all about," said Ray Perez, CEO of operation at Restoring Veteran Hope.

When Army veteran Perez got out of service, he went through homelessness, incarceration and addiction.

"I didn't realize I was building my resume at the time, going down those dark roads. But here we are today and I'm very blessed to be where I'm at, helping the people that we do," said Perez.

Perez started the program in 2019. His wife Maria had issues with anxiety when she got out. "It made it hard just being around people. People as a whole, being around big group, talking to people. not trusting people."

Maria, now a social worker, eventually found the resources she needed. Together - they help vets work through addiction, PTSD, suicidal ideation and those who come from jail, prison and rehab. Events like this car show help build camaraderie.

"They help transform people, give you job skills," said Richard Olvera, Marine Corps veteran. "They show you're worth something again. They give you a mission. They give you a sense of brotherhood that you had when you're in the service. They give you everything you need to succeed."