New Kensington veteran rewarded for his service with keys to free SUV |
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Dillon Carr

New Kensington’s Naseem Choudhry earned the free ride he received Thursday at a Monroeville dealership.

Choudhry, who served in the Marines from 2009 to 2014, was given a refurbished SUV through Progressive’s Keys to Progress program, which aims to provide military veterans with reliable transportation.

“There’s a lot of emotions going on right now,” said a smiling Choudhry, 30, moments being handed the keys inside Bowser Collision Center’s showroom in Monroeville.

He was one of 100 veterans across the country to receive free vehicles Thursday through the Progressive program. Since Keys to Progress’ inception seven years ago, more than 600 military families have received free vehicles, according to Progressive.

Choudhry’s 2017 Nissan Rogue also came with six months of paid insurance from Enterprise, gift baskets filled with accessories and a $300 gift card to Pep Boys.

The military veteran said the event in Monroeville, which attracted around 100 people, overwhelmed him as many showered him with gratitude for his service.

Progressive said in a news release that about 40% of veterans who live in rural areas do not have affordable transportation options, according to U.S. Department of Transportation statistics.

Choudhry’s new SUV will replace his need to borrow a company car. He works for the Pittsburgh-based Veterans Leadership Program of Western Pennsylvania. He said he’s had to drive the company car because his car is out of commission.

On top of work, Choudhry attends Penn State New Kensington. He’s pursuing a degree in history so he can one day teach it.

That’s why the program exists, said Doug Titchen, Progressive’s claims director. Choosing Choudhry was an easy decision, he said.

“When I asked him why he enlisted in the Marines, he said he wanted to serve with the best,” Titchen said, adding the company in turn wanted to provide the best for him and other veterans in need.

During his time in the Marines, Choudhry served in Afghanistan for seven months in 2011 as a fiscal chief in the company’s supply administrative arm. He is a 2008 Valley High School graduate.

According to the Progressive program’s website, recipients must fall below 200% of the federal poverty guidelines, not have reliable access to transportation and possess a clean driving record, among other factors.

John Morgan, the collision center’s director, said he was thrilled to host the event and help out Choudhry. The collision center was responsible for refurbishing the SUV the veteran received.

“I’m excited for this young man,” he said. “It’s going to make his life easier. It’s just so nice to be able to give back to him after what he’s given to us.”

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