SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — The U.S. just marked 21 years since the 9/11 attacks.

That life-changing day was one of the reasons a local woman decided to enlist in the army shortly thereafter.

Connie Johnson joined the army as a military police officer in 2002.

In 2003 she was part of the initial invasion into Iraq.

“I was hit by shrapnel to my neck where I was awarded the Purple Heart as part of that experience,” Combat veteran Connie Johnson said.

The combat veteran got out of the service in 2005, but to this day she still has a heart for serving others throughout her career and her work in veteran advocacy.

Now the mother of three has a shiny set of wheels to help her provide for her family and connect with other veterans.

“There are hardly any words. I’m extremely grateful and humbled for the opportunity to continue to drive the vehicle and it’s red so people will see me coming,” Johnson said.

Johnson was gifted the 2019 Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk through the Driven to Serve program.

It’s an initiative between U.S. Bank and the nonprofit, Freedom Alliance.

Billion Auto found the car for Tuesday’s giveaway and provided an extended warranty program.

“Connie is an example of a success story for sure. She dealt with a lot of hardship and some very difficult situations while she was deployed, but she came back and she found a job. She found a career path that suites her passion to be able to continue giving to veterans and serving veterans,” Justin Sabo with Freedom Alliance said.

Johnson says the new vehicle couldn’t have come at a better time.

The one she has been driving has more than 290,000 miles on it, and it’s seen better days.

But now she has the keys to continue her mission of serving others.

“My goal is to put on 200,000 miles on it,” Johnson said.

Johnson was born and raised in Elkton, and lives near Clear Lake.