Eric Andrew Prescott, a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, checks out the Acura TLX given to him as part of a program put on by Progressive Insurance to donate refurbished cars to veterans during an event at the company’s Lynnwood service center on Thursday. (Ian Terry / The Herald)

Eric Andrew Prescott, a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, checks out the Acura TLX given to him as part of a program put on by Progressive Insurance to donate refurbished cars to veterans during an event at the company’s Lynnwood service center on Thursday. (Ian Terry / The Herald)

A formerly homeless veteran is free-wheeling once again

Eric Prescott’s newish car will give him mobility and, hopefully, the chance to revive his singing career.

LYNNWOOD — Eric Prescott’s life has had more ups and downs than the stories in country songs he likes to sing.

He is a musician who once pawned his gear for money.

The former Marine says he has lived in a warehouse, a horse barn outfitted with a bunk house, the Everett Gospel Mission men’s shelter, and even under some bridges along I-5 in Snohomish County.

Through the work of a number of agencies and local nonprofits, including the Snohomish County’s Veterans’ Assistance Program, Prescott, 60, has been able to get vouchers for food, an apartment in Mill Creek, and a bus pass.

That still left him double checking bus schedules, and when they made their last evening runs, to get from place to place.

All that ended Thursday when he was handed the keys to a 2016 black Acura sedan with just 1,400 miles on its odometer.

The car was provided through the Progressive insurance company’s national Keys to Progress program. Now in its fifth year, the program provides cars to veterans. The presentation took place at its Lynnwood office in a room festooned with red, white and blue balloons.

After his name was called and he walked over to inspect his new car, Prescott still seemed stunned with the reality that the car was actually his.

“It’s hard to realize I won’t be taking the bus home from here today,” he said. “I’m going to drive. It’s a little surreal is how it feels.”

Prescott joined the Marines in November 1975. He said he was assigned to the Camp El Toro Marine Corps Air Station in California. He attained the rank of lance corporal and left the Marines in 1978.

Since then, he has tried to make a living as a singer. His repertoire includes country music and rhythm and blues. His favorite songs include tunes by Carlos Santana, Jim Croce and George Strait.

By his telling, his career has been hit and miss. He once wondered if he would have enough fuel to get home from a gig.

Now he will be more mobile than he’s been in several years. He hopes to resume his singing career at venues as varied as lunchtime crowds at retirement centers and a country saloon in Seattle.

He said he recently stopped by the bar and talked to a man who was in charge of scheduling.

“When people ask you, ‘Do you have availability?’ if you’re booked up, you’re good,” he said.

He made the mistake of saying he was available. Now, he said, he plans to ask if he can do a 20-minute demonstration on a Monday or Tuesday night.

“I was planning the bus route. My schedules. How I’ll get my stuff on the bus. Now I don’t have to do that,” Prescott said.

“All I need is my guitar and a microphone,” he said. “We’ll see.”

Sharon Salyer; 425-339-3486; salyer@heraldnet.com.

Snohomish County’s National Homeless Memorial Day vigil, with a tribute to veterans, is scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. Dec. 21 at the Snohomish County Courthouse, 3000 Rockefeller Ave., Everett. The vigil will include special recognition of veterans. The vigil allows the community to remember those who died while homeless in Snohomish County this year.

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