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Disabled veteran donates wheelchair van to fellow veteran.


On Saturday, May 14th, two veterans participated in an exchange that proved the "no soldier left behind" philosophy of the armed forces holds true even decades after time spent on the battlefield.

Charles Greenwald, who served in the Marines for six years, gifted his 2005 BraunAbility wheelchair van to Bert Francoeur, a decorated WWII veteran, at Ride-Away, a local mobility dealership that sells and services wheelchair-accessible vehicles and other mobility equipment.

Greenwald became a wheelchair user after he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2003. When he learned he was eligible for funding assistance from the Veteran's Administration to purchase mobility equipment, he met with Mobility Consultant Roland Grundmann at Ride-Away and purchased the van.

"My van has been a life-saver for me," said Greenwald. "It has given me independence and I've relied on it each and every day since then."

Last year, when he was able to trade-in his vehicle for a newer wheelchair van, Greenwald returned to Ride-Away and purchased a 2011 BraunAbility Toyota Rampvan. Knowing how much he valued his accessible vehicle, Greenwald wanted to give his used vehicle to another veteran in need.

"He said, 'If you know of a fellow veteran who could use this vehicle, I'd like to donate it to him ... free of charge,'" recounted Grundmann, who knew the ideal recipient. For nearly four years, Grundmann had been in contact with Bert Francouer, who had recently lost both legs due to health problems unrelated to his time spent in service. "Bert didn't qualify for mobility assistance from the VA, and because of that, he couldn't afford a wheelchair van."

If any veteran deserved a helping hand, it certainly was Francouer. The 91-year-old has volunteered tirelessly on behalf of the VA hospital in West Haven. For years, he organized the volunteer-run transportation department and was commander of the Connecticut Disabled American Veterans Organization. Francouer recently worked with the Knights of Columbus to raise awareness and funding to purchase a wheelchair-accessible bus so West Haven VA amputee veterans are able to travel on group outings.

Now, the WWII veteran who has spent thousands of hours volunteering for his fellow veterans has received the donation of a lifetime from an equally generous veteran.

For more information about RIDEAWAY visit

For more information about the Braun Corporation visit

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Title Annotation:United States Military Section: ARMY; Charles Greenwald, Bert Francoeur
Publication:The Exceptional Parent
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 1, 2011
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