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Donation provides mobility, honors Jumper

By Staff Sgt. C. Todd Lopez

WASHINGTON (May 13, 2005) -- In honor of Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen. John P. Jumper and his wife, Ellen, the Ford Motor company donated two wheelchair accessible vans to Walter Reed Army Medical Center during a ceremony May 12 at the Pentagon.

Edsel B. Ford II, of the company’s board of directors, said they donated the vehicles honoring General Jumper's commitment to ensuring freedom to all Americans.

Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force Gerald R. Murray looks on as Bobby Baker explains to Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. John P. Jumper the adaptive features of a van. The van is one of two donated in General Jumper's and his wife, Ellen's, names to Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Arlington, Va., by the Ford Motor company. Walter Reed staff will use one van for moving wounded servicemembers, while the other will be used by the various therapy programs to teach wheelchair bound servicemembers or amputees how to drive with their injuries. Mr. Baker is the mobility manager for a local dealer. U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Jim Varhegyi.

"General Jumper has given the better part of four decades of his life to making certain that America enjoys the openness and freedoms -- including the freedom of industry -- that we have come to take for granted," Mr. Ford said. "One of the things I admire most about him, and about Ellen, is they routinely work with military hospitals to appreciate, encourage and restore those who have paid for our freedom with their health and well-being. That is the mark of a true hero."

The two vans, a Ford Econoline and a Ford Freestar, were both modified to be wheelchair accessible. One of the vans has special equipment installed on the driver's side to allow those without legs to drive the vehicle. It will be used by people at the medical center to help military amputees learn to drive again, said Army Maj. Gen. Kenneth L. Farmer, commanding general of the North Atlantic Regional Medical Command and Walter Reed.

"Part of rehabilitation and recuperation is helping (injured servicemembers) to relearn activities of daily living, often using adaptive technology," he said. "These two specially equipped vans will not just provide transportation, they will also provide training platforms for that adaptive technology to relearn to drive a vehicle."

General Jumper said he believes the goal of the medical center, and of medical care, should be to get injured servicemembers back in uniform, and said the two new vans are tools to accomplish that goal.

"The objective of medical care is rehabilitation, and if at all possible, to get (servicemembers) back to their units and get them serving again," he said. "What we have here in the form of these two vehicles is a vote for rehabilitation, and it is a powerful vote we take very seriously."