Mission Viejo veteran given free truck to help him assist fellow vets

MISSION VIEJO, Calif. (KABC) -- Michael Vu Anh Nguyen is a Navy veteran who is also a Buddhist monk.

He's made it his mission to reduce the number of veteran suicides.

He's been traveling to work and volunteer commitments by bus - but thanks to a generous donation, he'll now be able to help so many more.

The crowd in Mission Viejo cheers as they unveil a very special gift for a hero.

It's a truck - donated by Caliber Collision and its partners to Nguyen.

"Oh yeah, it's awesome. It's great! I couldn't be more happier," Nguyen said.

After serving four years in Desert Storm as a combat medic, Nguyen returned to civilian life, but struggled with PTSD.

He joined a Buddhist monastery and went to France for eight years.

Nguyen was a monk for 15 years, when he heard about a veteran committing suicide.

That's when he knew he needed to help.

He said, "I work for PATH, People Assisting The Homeless, and I work for the veterans tract, so we work for veterans that are homeless, trying to get them housed."

When he's not working, Nguyen volunteers with The Mission Continues, a nonprofit that empowers veterans to continue their service in their communities.

To do all of this, he often spends four hours a day taking public transportation.

"Start taking the bus or taking the train to get to work," Nguyen said. "And then once I got to work I would have to take a Lyft or Uber to go see my client."

The truck, part of the Recycled Rides program, is repaired and made to run like new.

It will now give Nguyen more opportunities to help pursue his passion.

Michael Wandrey with Caliber Collision was happy to be part of the effort to honor Nguyen.

"Help him now being able to enhance and expand what he does, so really proud of the whole team to be able to provide that to him," Wandrey said.

"It will cut down on my time that it's going to take me to get to my clients," Nguyen added. "But at the same time, I'll have wheels to be able to go and do things for The Mission Continues."
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