Juan Barnett, 40
Director of military marketing and growth, TrueCar
Military branch: Army
Juan Barnett is passionate about getting military veterans into a vehicle.
Barnett, director of military marketing and growth at TrueCar Inc., helps guide the company’s DrivenToDrive initiative. The program has donated a new — in some cases retrofitted — vehicle to a disabled or injured service member each year since 2016.
“It’s almost like you give someone a new lease on life when you give them something as simple as a vehicle that they can get into on their own and just go, even if it’s for a morning drive,” he said. “A lot of us take that for granted.”
Barnett joined the Army in February 2001 while he was a student at Ohio State University. He spent six years on active duty and in the National Guard. He never deployed overseas but worked on a small policy team in Washington, D.C., while in uniform. He stayed in the nation’s capital after he left the Army in various policy roles, including with the Department of Defense and on Capitol Hill as a congressional staffer.
His policy work included health and safety issues, such as veterans’ mental health and access to care. On the side, he became interested in automotive policy and safety and started an automotive blog, which he said led to a connection with former Hyundai Motor America CEO John Krafcik, who became TrueCar’s president in 2014.
Barnett joined TrueCar’s ALG subsidiary in 2015 as a junior analyst working on residual values before moving into other roles within the company.
The DrivenToDrive program is supported by TrueCar in partnership with the Disabled American Veterans and Team RWB organizations and AutoNation, the nation’s largest new-vehicle dealership group.
“I hope, if anything, this program just becomes a catalyst for awareness,” Barnett said. “And yeah, we’d like to serve a lot more people. And hopefully, at some point, someone’s knocking on the door saying, ‘Hey, we want to give. We’ve got 10 trucks here. What do we have to do? Where do we have to park these so you can give them away?’ ”
— Lindsay VanHulle