An Army veteran and mother of two fell on hard times, then her 2005 Buick Terraza van with over 200,000 miles on it needed thousands of dollars in repairs.
She didn’t know what to do.
On Friday, Feb. 4, The American Legion came to Brandy Steller’s rescue.
For $4,500 it bought her a 2000 Nissan Maxima with 90,000 miles on it from The Car Lot in New Prague. In addition to knocking $1,000 off the price, it donated $500 to her.
“I am going to drive it everywhere,” she said. “I can go places without worrying about breaking down. I have heat! I am so happy.”
In the paperwork, Steller explained her military service, her difficult family situation and her mounting bills to Scott County Veteran Service Officer Marissa LaCourt, who brought the matter to New Prague American Legion Post 45 Commander Linda Dvorak.
Dvorak then filed paperwork to request funds from Minnesota American Legion Foundation’s Veterans Assistance Fund. The fund is set up to address situations just like this.
Department Adjutant Mike Maxa and his staff verified the paperwork and cut the check directly to The Car Lot for the Maxima.
Steller, who lives in New Prague, has a boy, 13, and a girl, 9, and now she can drive them to school and activities, and she can get to work at Dairy Queen. She is a 2005 graduate of Prior Lake High School. She served as an MP in the Army in 2006-07.
She described The American Legion as a generous organization. She is now a member of Post 45 and intends to volunteer with the Legion helping other veterans and the community.
“It gives me hope where I thought there wasn’t any,” Steller said. “I am excited to volunteer to pay it back.”
LaCourt said it is the CVSO’s role to make connections to where help is available. Knowing resources available with veterans organizations is critical to the job.
Steller shed a few tears and hugged LaCourt and Dvorak.
“That was so amazing,” Dvorak said. “I am so thankful we were able to help her out and get her going in the right direction.”
Rob Krautkremer, owner of The Car Lot, said the $4,500 price tag includes the tax and all. He said his dealership typically offers discounts to veterans.
“I do as much as I can to help the veterans,” he said.
Tim Engstrom is the Department of Minnesota Communications Director.