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Thursday, October 21, 2021

Nation’s first driving rehabilitation program helps veterans, wounded warriors get again on the highway

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A veteran who was severely injured in Afghanistan teamed up along with his occupational therapist and driving rehab specialist to assist individuals with disabilities get back into the driver’s seat

Marine veteran Josh Himan and Tammy Phipps developed the Driver Rehabilitation Middle of Excellence (DRCE) in 2016 – marking the nation’s first driving rehabilitation program providing a full suite of providers aimed toward serving to people who find themselves both injured or bodily challenged. 

Retired Military Capt. James Howard on the Driver Rehabilitation Middle of Excellence (DRCE).


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The duo first met on the Walter Reed Nationwide Navy Medical Middle in Bethesda, Maryland, the place Phipps had developed the primary and solely driver rehab program within the Department of Defense.  

One among her sufferers was Himan, who was left paralyzed from the waist down after his car drove over an IED over the last month of his deployment in 2009. 

“Throughout my time within the hospital, you recognize, considered one of their issues was, what can I do again in society once more?” Himan informed Fox Information. “They informed me that I had the power to drive…however the issue was attempting to place the entire bundle collectively.” 

Retired Marine Sgt. Maj. Raymond Mackey at the Driver Rehabilitation Center of Excellence (DRCE)

Retired Marine Sgt. Maj. Raymond Mackey on the Driver Rehabilitation Middle of Excellence (DRCE)

He recalled pondering: “OK, so I’ve the potential of driving. However how do I discover the kind of car? How do I learn about all of the issues which might be obtainable for individuals with my incapacity to drive?” 

On prime of that, attempting to determining the Veteran Affairs paperwork proved to be very distressing.


When he known as Phipps in 2013 for assist – every part modified. 

“She was the one one to not simply inform me I may drive once more,” he mentioned. “The distinction was she bought me really driving again on the highway. She helped me with the paperwork.” 

He wasn’t alone in his struggles.

Retired Air Force Master Sgt. Mark McClish at the Driver Rehabilitation Center of Excellence (DRCE). 

Retired Air Drive Grasp Sgt. Mark McClish on the Driver Rehabilitation Middle of Excellence (DRCE). 

Phipps recalled getting a number of calls from veterans that had simply transitioned into veteran standing throughout the nation and wanted assist however didn’t have the precise custom-made car or assets to seek out one. 

The issue, she recalled, is that she was considered one of a “very small area of interest” of occupational therapists that do driving rehabilitation. Actually, “There’s solely round 400 nationally, and that quantity will get smaller and smaller, the extra advanced the {cases} grow to be,” she mentioned. 

The duo determined to deal with what Phipps – now the CEO of DRCE – mentioned was “an enormous hole in providers for veterans and for all individuals with disabilities on this space.”


Positioned in Fairfax County, Virginia, DRCE gives a full suite of providers. DRCE employees will consider a driver and assist them discover auto-adaptive gear that is finest suited to their distinctive wants. They are going to correctly set up the gear for the driving force and, by means of their driving rehabilitation packages, will get them comfortably again on the highway.

Retired Army Capt. James Howard and DRCE co-owner retired Marine Cpl. Joshua Himan. 

Retired Military Capt. James Howard and DRCE co-owner retired Marine Cpl. Joshua Himan. 

“We took and made a mannequin that is by no means been executed nationally,” Phipps mentioned. 

Nonetheless, veterans should not the one ones benefitting from these providers. 

Over the previous 5 years, DRCE has helped a whole lot of people who find themselves severely injured get again out on the highway. 

“What I actually discover a number of satisfaction in is I assist quadriplegics throughout America,” Himan mentioned. “We’re in a position to take these abilities that we realized within the army and from all these army accidents and now really go that alongside to the civilian world.

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