Earlier this year, American Military News reported that Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson Surprised United States Army veteran and Purple Heart recipient Marlene Rodriguez with a brand new 2018 Mustang GT.
The Rock surprised Rodriguez during an interview where she was discussing her experience that resulted in her being given a Purple Heart, and her involvement with the Military Warrior Support Foundation, an organization whose mission is to provide support and programs that facilitate a smooth and successful transition for our nation’s combat wounded heroes and Gold Star families.
Rodriguez was injured twice during her three tours in Iraq; both times she was the victim of a roadside bomb.
The first blast killed the driver of her vehicle, 18-year-old Kevin Jones, who was a fellow soldier and a close friend of Rodriguez. The blast also affected Rodriguez, leaving her with a seizure disorder that caused her to have up to 10 seizures a day. Because of this, she honorably retired from service.
“It’s been a long process,” Rodriguez said. “First, I had to work on my traumatic brain disorder and that kind of spearheaded into the PTSD. I would say that it took six years to get where I am now.”
CJ Pony Parts recently caught up with Rodriguez for an update on her new wheels and her plans for the future.
After receiving her dream car, Rodriguez began planning the customized design. She had the name “Kevin Jones” stitched on the passenger seat headrest. “The best thing about my design for the vehicle is that they allowed me to dedicate the passenger seat to my fallen soldier [Jones], Rodriguez said. “I think that’s the most amazing part; is that I get to drive with him every day.”
Rodriguez is also hoping to earn a four-year degree in recreational therapy from Texas State University.
When she gets a break from studying, she has been working with various military charity organizations and hopes that with her degree, she will be able to help others who have gone through similar circumstances.
“[Helping others] is my motivation and that’s what pushes me forward… I’m trying to get my degree in recreational therapy because I know what kind of tool it is to pull you out of that dark zone. If I can help as many people as possible, that’s my goal.” Rodriguez told CJ Pony Parts.
Rodriguez has also set another goal for herself. In total, three male U.S. Purple Heart Recipients have stood on top of the world, and she wants to be the first female. Starting in January 2018, she will begin the process of altitude and technical skill acclimatization so she can climb Mount Everest. She plans on completing the climb in May 2018. She has set up a Go Fund Me page in order to fund her climb.