News: America Supports You: Vets Help Wounded Warriors, Families Relax
Story by Samantha Quigley
By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON - Two former Marines have set out to provide wounded veterans with a week's worth of rest and relaxation in luxury homes.
"Our mission is to pair up recently wounded veterans who are the recipients of the Purple Heart Medal with vacation homeowners who are eager to donate a week of free lodging in their vacation homes," said Peggy Carr, who founded the Vacations for Veterans with her husband, Christopher.
The Washington-based organization's focus is to get veterans wounded in Iraq or Afghanistan and their families on a "much-needed and much-deserved respite," she said. "A vacation serves as a time for these veterans to rejuvenate and to reconnect with families after spending time in hospitals and [rehabilitation] facilities," Carr added.
The idea for Vacations for Veterans originated when Peggy began debating which charity she would support with a portion of the proceeds from her business, "Exclusive Exchanges." The company helps to connect homeowners who would like to swap homes while they vacation, and she noticed that some of her luxury vacation homes were vacant for several weeks each year.
The enthusiastic response she received after explaining the idea to some of the home's owners sealed the deal, and Vacations for Veterans was born.
"What we have found to be pretty unique about our organization is that we set it up to help the wounded veterans, of course," Carr said. "We have found, though, that we have helped some of our home donors as well. Many have contacted us to thank us for allowing them to give back in some small way to our troops who have sacrificed so much."
Homeowners who would like to participate can sign up through the Vacations for Veterans Web site, which also is where eligible veterans can express interest. Veterans must provide a copy of their Purple Heart documentation to establish eligibility.
Vacations for Veterans is a new supporter of America Supports You, a Defense Department program connecting citizens and companies with service members and their families serving at home and abroad.
Carr said she hopes the affiliation will help with exposure and networking, among other things.
"We especially need help with fundraising, as we have found that most of the veterans do not have the money to pay for travel costs to get to a lot of our vacations homes that are available to them," she said.