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NEWS | Nov. 15, 2023

Sailing Towards Recovery: More Than a Car

By MCC Ty Connors Trident Refit Facility, Bangor

Hull Technician 1st Class Justin Reinhardt, a Sailor assigned to Trident Refit Facility, Bangor, (TRFB) walks proudly around his 2012 MazdaSpeed3 on a beautiful day in Bremerton, Washington. He shares his aging pride and joy, his car, with Evan Beckerman, cofounder of Throtl, an online retailer for performance car and truck parts, and Gary King Jr., one of the hosts at Hoonigan, an automotive apparel and lifestyle brand. 

Beckerman and King listen attentively as Reinhardt passionately describes his bond with his vehicle and his endeavors to tailor it to his lifestyle. 

“I love this car,” said Reinhardt. “My kids call it ‘daddy’s race car’ and we love going on adventures in it together. I use this ‘hot hatch’ for all the things I used to use my truck for, and it does great!” 

Like most car enthusiasts, Reinhardt dreamed of how he would renovate his car. 

“As a dad, you know, my priorities aren’t the car first,” said Reinhardt. “It’s my family first. So, it was going to take me a long time to do what these guys will do in about a month!” 

Reinhardt is the winner of the inaugural “Tactical Transformations” car makeover by Throtl.  He was selected from a pool of over 4,000 active duty, reserve and veteran applicants to have his personal vehicle completely renovated and revealed to him at a ceremony Nov. 11, Veterans Day 2023, in San Diego.   

“We are all indebted to the men and women of the military for all the sacrifices, and everything that they have done for us as a country,” said Beckerman. “We have done several transformations for people within the automotive community, and we thought, what better, more deserving group than the military, whether it is active, reserve or veteran.” 

The selection was a long and arduous process. 

“As you can imagine, after more than 4,000 submissions, it was really hard to dwindle it down to one winner,” said King. “For Justin, it was the story. Justin’s story was a story of redemption and his contributions to his country. Seeing him do better, and knowing he wants to continue to do better, sticks with all of us. His car and his story are just going to continue to make him a better person and we are excited to be part of that.” 

Beckerman, King and the sponsors felt that Reinhardt was the clear choice for the transformation. 

“I put a lot of myself into the entry,” said Reinhardt. “I think they chose me because I was genuine, because I was human.”   

In 2019, Reinhardt discovered an untimely heart condition which disqualified him from continued submarine service. The harmful coping choices he made in the face of stress and uncertainty led him to realize he had an alcohol problem. After realizing TRFB prioritizes Sailor welfare, he self-referred to the command Drug and Alcohol Program Advisor (DAPA) who set him up with the appointments and an introduction to the Substance Abuse and Rehabilitation Program (SARP) at the Naval hospital. 

“It was the hardest decision for me to make, but it was the best decision for me to make,” said Reinhardt. “When I came to TRFB and started in-processing, one of the briefs we got was from the DAPA. The DAPA’s brief was passionate and was the final push I needed to seek help. It kept me alive. If I hadn’t had access to the resources the Naval hospital provided, I wouldn’t be here today.” 

What followed his self-referral was six weeks of intensive outpatient treatment followed by a year of continuous care. This care includes counseling sessions, understanding the science of addiction, and equipping Reinhardt with the tools he would need on his journey to recovery. 

Reinhardt decided to use his submission for the contest as an opportunity to tell his story of recovery and inform others of the resources available to Sailors and others alike. 

“The car is awesome, but I don’t need the car,” said Reinhardt. “If I can help just one person have their hope restored, put their life back on track, I will be satisfied. I really think they selected me because by giving this gift to me and my family, perhaps they will give a gift to a lot of people out there who need to hear my message. If you find yourself in a place where you think you are alone, you are not. There is help.” 

If you or some you know is struggling with substance abuse, there are resources. Please contact your command DAPA or visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website at 

SAMHSA’s National Helpline, 1-800-662-HELP (4357), is a free, confidential, 24/7, 365-day-a-year treatment referral and information service for individuals and families facing mental and/or substance use disorders.