Los Osos business rebuilds camper van for Navy veteran

acornejo@thetribunenews.comNovember 20, 2012 

Scott Dion, who spent 20 years in the Navy as an explosives expert, now dedicates his time to helping other veterans transition back into civilian life, something he says is an intricate, personal and at times heart-wrenching process.

This week, Dion was honored by a Los Osos business, GoWesty, for his service to the country. The company, which specializes in Volkswagen camper vans, did a complete renovation of Dion’s vehicle — for free.

Dion, who owns a 1986 Vanagon, needed help getting the vehicle into good working order.

Workshops for Warriors, a San Diego-based nonprofit for which Dion works, contacted GoWesty, and despite being more than 300 miles away, the business was eager to help.

“Clearly, it was good public relations but also because on everyone’s mind are these two wars being fought,” GoWesty owner Segismundo Lucas Valdes said. “People come and go to those wars, and not much is spoken about them. It seems they fall through the cracks. This was a way to help a veteran and do our part for the troops. It was a statement I wanted to make to our staff.”

In all, the company spent more than 50 hours giving the Vanagon a complete overhaul, renovating the cooling system, suspension, wheels and tires, brakes and steering system. Ten employees helped.

“Our intention was to get everything in working order to help Scott get a handle on it so that he could keep up on it himself,” Valdes said.

On Monday morning, the keys were given back to Dion and his wife, Sarah.
For the couple, the camper van signifies family time as they put the hectic week aside, jump inside and drive to the next adventure.

Dion said he was grateful for GoWesty’s help, especially because much of his time is spent volunteering to help returning troops pursue job training and careers in manufacturing skills and because money is tight.

Veterans returning to the states often come back extremely skilled in trades that don’t always translate into civilian life, said Dion, who himself spent most of his career working with explosives.

The Workshops for Warriors program helps veterans assess what they are going to do next and connects them with the skills needed to make it happen.

“It’s really hard to know how to really help veterans,” Dion said, adding that every situation is different.

This time, it was Dion’s turn to receive help.

“I hear an overwhelming amount of talk and see little action when it comes to helping veterans,” Dion said, adding he is grateful the company was willing to help just because of his service to the country.

For Valdes, the decision to help was simple. It was the right thing to do.

Reach AnnMarie Cornejo at 781-7939. Stay updated by following @a_cornejo on Twitter.

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