Retired Army Sgt. 1st Class and CEO of Fort Hood Area Habitat for Humanity, Ken Cates received a custom 2019 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon from Nexen Tire America, Inc. on national TV last month as part of the Nexen Hero 3 Campaign.
Following his retirement, Cates is now the CEO of the Fort Hood Area Habitat for Humanity serving three counties in the greater Killeen/Temple, Texas, area. As its CEO, Cates has enabled the organization to triple the amount of homes it completes each year and has completed nine other unique projects centering around repairs and community revitalization. His leadership has positively impacted 150 families combined. Through his vision for the organization, he’s led the group by completing 26 homes for the veteran community and impacting more than 30 families. These homes were built exclusively for homeless- and disabled-veterans. Prior to that, he led more than 48 individual projects for the group last year.
Nexen says Cates has been a guest on local TV in the past but said being on national news was quite humbling for him.
“Being on national TV was something new for me, but not unfamiliar. The military prepares you to treat everyone with respect, no matter what their title is,” Cates said.
Cates said accepting the Nexen Hero Jeep live on national news meant he was there to represent all the other veterans who were initially nominated for the vehicle.
“There are veterans out there doing so much for our communities nationwide, and it’s my duty to represent them,” he explained.
“I was extremely humbled when I learned how many other nominees there were. Any one of those nominees could have been in my position. For that reason, I’ve made it my mission to represent those other 5,000 veterans with this vehicle, and I’m honored to do so.”
Cates said the Jeep has given him the opportunity to talk about Nexen Tire and the Purple Heart Foundation.
“People even recognized me since seeing the Jeep on TV. They ask me how I was selected, what the program is about, and they thank me for my service,” he said. “We’ve all nicknamed the Jeep ‘Beast’ since taking it home.”
Since being on national TV and taking ownership of the Jeep, Cates said he’s not only rekindled old relationships from the past; he’s even made some new ones along the way. He says he’s received numerous messages on his social media accounts from current- and retired-soldiers that he’s known for years, and even mentioned some of the nominees have reached out to congratulate him.
As the weather begins to warm up, Cates plans to take “Beast” off-roading as soon as possible. Although he lives in Central Texas, which is known for its drier climate, he is excited to take the Jeep mudding as well.
“Out of all seven of my children, my youngest daughter is begging to make sure she’s the one in the front seat when we go off-roading. Many of the young soldiers I helped mentor throughout my career have messaged me on social media to take the Jeep on fishing trips to Corpus Christi, so you can bet this Jeep will see plenty of use.”
More than 5,000 veterans were nominated to receive the Jeep, an initiative by Nexen Tire and the Purple Heart Foundation. This is Nexen’s third installment of the program. During the campaign, Nexen Tire matched all individual donations made to the Purple Heart Foundation and together, raised a grand total of $62,143.46.