Local veteran honored by Mike Rowe’s “Returning the Favor” show

Local News

A local veteran who refurbishes old cars and gives them to vets in need is getting some recognition himself tonight.

Justin Cogswell’s passion led him to create Operation Build Up, a non-profit that helps veterans assimilate to civilian life.    

Cogswell says he knew their was a chance his organization could be chosen for a web show but it never hit home until he saw Mike Rowe walking through his door.

“As soon as he walked in, I knew it was “Returning the Favor,” there was no doubt about it!” said Cogswell.

Rowe and his crew were in Conesus in March to showcase Cogswell surprising a local vet with a refurbished car.

“We were getting ready to surprise a Marine. We had our own mission that was to go back for one of our brothers in need and it was really cool for him to be on the ground with us to be able to experience our mission while we were able to experience his.” said Cogswell.

Cogswell and the volunteers at Operation Build Up aren’t mechanics by trade but they put plenty of man-hours into replacing cars for vets.

“Not a single mechanic (laughs) which is pretty funny. We spend a lot of time on YouTube researching how to fix these vehicles.” said Cogswell.

30 volunteers make up their team including 20 veterans, many of which are people Operation Build Up has helped out in the past.

“When we surprise them with the vehicle, they’re so excited that number one they have a vehicle, number two that we’ve all come together in their honor and nine times out of 10 they join the team and help us further our mission.” said Cogswell.

The volunteers at Operation Build Up are continuing their work in their new garage in Avon. A surprise from Rowe who decided to also pick up their first-year rent.

The organization is planning on giving away seven vehicles during the next three weeks including a few this weekend.

Cogswell is hoping he can build his non-profit into a national brand that can help veterans all over the country.

They accept monetary donations, donated cars, tools and pictures of fallen vets.

Here’s a link to their website and a link to the “Returning the Favor” episode that Cogswell was featured in.                                       

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