15:48 PM

American Family Insurance and Gates Collision Centers present refurbished vehicle to Iraqi war veteran


Through the Recycled Rides program, American Family partnered with Gates Collision Centers to donate a total loss vehicle, refurbished it to industry standards, then presented it to a local veteran in recognition of Veterans Day.

Andrew Diaz, a Army Sergeant First Class (SFC) and Iraq war veteran, received a special Veterans Day gift today as the recipient of a 2016 Jeep Patriot, donated by American Family Insurance and refurbished by Gates Collision Centers through the Recycled Rides program.

American Family partnered with Gates Collision Centers to donate a vehicle declared a total loss. When a car is declared a total loss, American Family pays the customer for the actual cash value of the vehicle before the loss, and usually takes possession of the vehicle and can sell it through a salvage vendor. With the Recycled Rides program, rather than take the salvage proceeds, American Family donates the vehicles and a local auto body shop donates its services to repair them. Other vendors also offer parts and services. The vehicles are repaired to industry standards and meet state safety requirements.

The vehicle is then donated to a worthy recipient who meets criteria such as a valid driver’s license, proof of income/employment and a safe driving record. For the past several years, veterans have been chosen as recipients in recognition of Veterans Day.

SFC Diaz served two tours in Iraq, one where his patrol vehicle was struck by an improvised explosive device (IED) and he sustained head trauma, and the second tour where he was critically injured in a rocket attack. After completing his recovery he reenlisted and began school in 2010 to become an occupational therapist. SFC Diaz is currently assigned to the 7302nd Medical Training Support Battalion Battalion as the senior training non-commissioned officer.

Representatives from American Family and Gates Collision Centers presented the keys to a very grateful SFC Diaz and his family at a presentation on Monday, Nov. 12.

Speaking on behalf of American Family, Physical Damage Product Department Policies and Procedure Manager Mark Follman, said, "At American Family, it’s our mission to inspire, protect and restore dreams. We believe in dreaming fearlessly. Thanks in part to the sacrifices of our service men and women like Sergeant First Class Diaz, all of us are better able to reach for our dreams."

Also representing American Family at the event were: Jake Babich, policy and procedure administrator; Rob Borchert, product program administrator; Ellie Walsh, claims product director; Dan Wilson, physical damage claim manager; and Mike Wood, certified repair program senior adjuster.

Some of SFC Diaz's awards include two Purple Hearts, three Army Commendation Medals, and four Army Achievement Medals. SFC Diaz is a member of the Military Order of the Purple Heart, is a Wounded Warrior Project Alumni, and is an American Occupational Therapy Association member.

"We do not expect any accolades," said Diaz. "But from the bottom of my heart, we are so grateful to American Family and Gates for giving us this gift today."

SFC Diaz lives in Sun Prairie, Wis. with his wife and three children.

Read more about SFC Diaz's military service here.

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About American Family Insurance
Madison, Wisconsin-based American Family Insurance group is the nation's 13th-largest property/casualty insurance group and ranks No. 311 on the Fortune 500 list. The company sells American Family-brand products, including auto, homeowners, life, business and farm/ranch insurance, primarily through its exclusive agents in 19 states. American Family affiliates (The General and Homesite) also provide options for consumers who want to manage their insurance matters directly over the internet or by phone. Affiliate Main Street America sells insurance products through independent agents. Web; Facebook; Twitter