Segs4Vets, a continuing program which began in 2005, is an unprecedented grass-roots effort sustained and administered by volunteers representing grateful Americans who passionately believe that when those serving our Nation are sent into harm’s way and suffer serious injury and permanent disability, they must have every resource and tool available to them which will allow them to continue to live the highest quality of life possible.
The program which made its first presentation in September 2005, to three recipients who had sustained injuries in Operation Iraqi Freedom, was conceived and implemented with the assistance of Gen. Ralph "Ed" Eberhart, USAF (Ret), President of the Armed Forces Benefits Association.
Our focus is that when our severely injured return from Iraq and Afghanistan, they rise again, choosing the path of independence rather than dependence, once again becoming productive members of society, productive members of their family and continue to serve our nation.
The impact of the program resonates well beyond just the recipients; it extends to their wives, husbands, children, mothers, fathers and other family members whose lives have been turned upside down. For many, the Segway has had such a psychological impact on our recipients that it has brought about a dramatic positive change in family dynamics.
The Segs4Vets program provides successful candidates with a universally designed mobility device which does not draw attention to their disability. The Segway is a tool that is solving many of the mobility issues facing our disabled veterans, in a manner which is psychologically uplifting and physically beneficial and rekindling in our recipients the desire and motivation to continue to serve their families, their nation and their fellow man.
The size of the Segs4Vets program in terms of funding in comparison to other nonprofits serving our nations wounded warriors is very small; however the tangible results achieved by it are among the most dramatic.
The Segs4Vets program has continued to explore funding opportunities to expand the Segs4Vets program to meet the need of our continuing casualties in Afghanistan and the percentage of those medically evacuated from Operation Enduring Freedom & Operation Iraqi Freedom over the last 10 years. Currently the Segs4Vets program is budgeting for an additional 200 awards through November 2013 which while far below the projected need it is a number which is currently achievable and sustainable until additional funding opportunities present themselves. The successful implementation and continuation of the Segs4Vets program will have a generational impact on American society.
Following its first presentation, the Segs4Vets program began the process of seeking a waiver which would allow the presentation of Segway's to active-duty military personnel who had been severely injured and permanently disabled while serving in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. In August 2006, the Segs4Vets program became the only recipient of a blanket waiver from the United States military allowing a donation in excess of $1000 to active-duty military personnel.
In 2006, the program began setting up training and assessment programs at military medical centers which provided rehabilitative care for OEF and OIF severely injured: Walter Reed Army Medical Center in February 2006; National Naval Medical Center in May 2006; Brooke Army Medical Center in November 2006; and the Naval Medical Center San Diego in November 2008.
In May 2006, Colonel William J. O'Brien, USMC (Ret), the Director of the Department of the Navy's Severely Injured Marines and Sailors Initiative (SIMS), a pilot program enacted under Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy H.C. "Barney" Barnum, to facilitate the full integration of injured service members into the Marine Corps and Navy, or to assist in their transition into the private sector, became aware of the Segs4Vets program and the benefits that the Segway could provide to injured Marines, Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen. In July 2006, the small staff of the SIMS program, Colonel O'Brien, HMC Christine Jensen, USN, and Joseph Wade began collaborating with the Segs4Vets program to encourage it to serve more OEF & OIF severely injured.
The results of this collaboration resulted in the first major Segs4Vets presentation ceremony on December 7, 2006 during a SIMS luncheon at the Army Navy Country Club in Arlington, Virginia. In May 2007, the SIMS program concluded its work having identified gaps in coverage for the severely injured and recommended solutions for those deficiencies. However, that first Segs4Vets presentation ceremony set a standard for future Segs4Vets ceremonies held twice annually in Washington, DC, San Antonio, Texas, and San Diego, California. Colonel O'Brien, HMC Jensen, Joe Wade, and now retired Secretary Barnum continue to play an active role in the Segs4Vets program.
Segs4Vets was presented the 2010 Spirit of Hope Award by the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of the Army’s
Public Service Award for distinguished public service in providing outstanding support to our Nation’s Veterans. A member of Military Family and Veterans Service Organizations of America, Segs4Vets has been certified as one of the best charities in America by the Independent Charities of America, an honor accorded fewer than 2,000 of the more than one million public charities in the United States.