Army vet helping others with help from her car ‘Penny’

Published: Dec. 2, 2022 at 8:55 AM CST|Updated: Dec. 2, 2022 at 6:37 PM CST
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ALEX CITY, Ala. (WSFA) - Anita Perez was born and raised in Alex City. It’s where she calls home.

“I worked for Russell Corporation like everyone else in town did,” said Perez.

Perez never had any plans to join the military. But one day, something happened.

“It was an accident. I stumbled into a recruiter’s office. I had taken my nephew in there because he needed to do something with his life,” Perez added.

Perez signed up, passed all the tests and became a soldier in the Army. She spent 20 years working as a medic and nurse serving our country. She got to see the world and met her husband in the Army. When they retired, they noticed something was missing.

“When we moved back to Alabama to be close to my mother, we didn’t have a sense of purpose. We just needed something to fit in,” Perez said.

They found it by joining the Disabled American Veterans organization.

“We are dedicated to a single purpose, empowering veterans to live quality lives with dignity and respect. We are a group of veterans helping other veterans,” Perez said.

This gave the Perez family the purpose they were looking for. Along the way, Anita enlisted a friend to help.

“Her name is Penny because her original color is orange, like a shiny penny,” Perez said.

Penny has a new look now. It all started when they dressed her up for a parade in Birmingham. She definitely turns some heads.

“It throws me off because I’ll see people at a stop light and they will point and laugh,” Perez added.

After serving 20 years in the army Anita Perez is helping disabled veterans in a different...
After serving 20 years in the army Anita Perez is helping disabled veterans in a different way, with some help from her car "penny".(WSFA)

Anita and her husband help disabled veterans with paperwork and rides when they need them. Penny isn’t quite equipped to give people rides, but she is a conversation starter.

“I want people to ask me about the DAV. I want them to join. If I’m driving my bright little car and can get somebody’s attention, they can call me. I can give them my card and connect them with whatever veteran service organization is in their area,” Perez added.

After serving in the army for two decades, she’s now helping soldiers in a different way, with her colorful friend always ready to ride. If you’d like to volunteer at the local DAV chapter, it’s always looking for help.

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