~ NATIONAL PURPLE HEART DAY is today, November 29, 2014. ~
Perhaps you’ve never heard of this day dedicated to recognizing the sacrifice of those servicemen and servicewomen who have met the criteria for receiving this U.S. Military Award.
All branches of our military award it.
In order to earn a Purple Heart, you must be seriously injured in the service of your country.
Too many Americans earned this distinguished honor while deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan. Due to roadside bombs, their severe injuries often meant losing an arm, or legs, sight, hearing or perhaps brain function.
Too many acquired Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Frequently, Purple Heart recipients are no longer medically fit to do the military jobs they were highly trained to do.
They are honorably discharged and left to deal with ongoing rehabilitation and unemployment.
“Though people may be tired of hearing about Iraq and Afghanistan, the aftermath for these wounded veterans and their caretakers is ever-present, and through donations of vacation homes, time shares and funds to sponsor these dream vacations, the American people are showing that they truly value the service and sacrifice of our military,” Peggy Carr said, founder of Vacations of Veterans.
I am writing these thoughts Thanksgiving Week because I want to highlight two ways many Americans can give back to Purple Heart veterans.
I own A Dream Come True Villa, an oceanfront, luxury villa for rent in Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands. I have been honored to give back to our heroes by hosting them for weeks of vacation at no cost. I do this through a wonderful organization whose sole purpose is to connect owners of second homes with Purple Heart recipients. The organization is called Vacations for Veterans.
This is how it works: Homeowners donate a week at their vacation homes ~ at no cost ~ for a Purple Heart recipient to enjoy. The veteran and his/her family’s airfare are paid by Vacations For Veterans. If you do not own a second home, you can make a donation toward veterans’ transportation expenses.
Sometimes it takes up to five years before an injured veteran has recuperated enough to travel. For many veterans, it is the first vacation the family has ever taken together.
At A Dream Come True Villa, we’ve been privileged to host Purple Heart recipients once or more every year.
I’ll mention one guest’s visit in detail: a Navy Seal who lost both legs. He visited Virgin Gorda with his two brothers and his fiancée. This remarkable young man’s main request was to go scuba diving as much as possible.
I wondered if this would be achievable, but I contacted DIVE-BVI on his behalf. The manager happened to be a Vietnam veteran, and he made this Purple Heart recipient’s Virgin Gorda dreams come true by taking him scuba diving every single day!
This afternoon, our next Purple Heart veteran arrived at A Dream Come True. He faces a different set of challenges: 10 to 20 seizures a day caused by his injuries. However, he is excited about trying to swim in the turquoise waters of Virgin Gorda and spending time relaxing at its pristine beaches. Vacations for Veterans paid for this veteran and his wife to fly to my island home.
I encourage anyone with a vacation home to consider offering one week a year to this worthwhile cause. Over a hundred veterans have requested my villa at one time, so Vacations for Veterans puts it in a lottery for one lucky winner.
There is a waiting list of Purple Heart veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan and are now healthy enough to go on a “Thank You” vacation.
A week’s vacation at your 1-bedroom condominium in Florida or a cabin on a lake will bring enormous joy to a veteran and his/her family!
If you do not have a vacation home, please consider making a monetary donation to cover travel expenses for a Purple Heart recipient and his family.
The website for Vacations for Veterans is being redesigned and will be re-activated in January 2015, (vacationsforveterans.org) but in the meantime, you can contact Peggy Carr, the former Marine and founder of Vacations for Veterans, by E-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mailing Address for Donations
Vacations For Veterans, LLC
9435 Lorton Market Street
Lorton, VA 22079
Vacations for Veterans is a 501c charitable foundation. Your donations for travel expenses are tax deductible.
Founded in 2007.
Thank you for reading.
Happy Thanksgiving, and God Bless!
RECOGNIZE THE SACRIFICE //www.recognizethesacrifice.org/purple-heart-criteria.html
HISTORY OF THE PURPLE HEART //www.purpleheart.org/HistoryMedal1.aspx
Local couple donates villa for vets
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