Thanks to help from our friends and benefactors, Rita and David Scott, Freedom Alliance is able offer to injured combat vets, who need a bit of rest and recreation, a little something we like to call the “Gainesville Getaway.” This consists of a long weekend in the Scotts’ sprawling lake house on Lake Lanier, with Rita’s cooking and this couple’s unmatched hospitality.
For the latest Gainesville Getaway, Freedom Alliance brought four exceptional service members to the lake for some downtime.
From Indianapolis, Bret was a Marine guard at Camp David, who deployed to Iraq in 2004, where he received an AK-47 round to his thigh. Later, while riding in a convoy with 15 others, a suicide bomber attacked his vehicle, and he was only one of four to survive.
Since then, Bret has lived with a traumatic brain injury (TBI), burns, broken bones, nerve damage, and combat stress, among other complications, and has undergone 29 surgeries.
Joe was recently retired from the Marine Corps since dealing with a TBI, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and a spinal injury after four deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. He and his family live near Camp Lejeune.
Josh, who lives near Winston-Salem, North Carolina, with his wife and two children, has also medically retired from Camp Lejeune due to PTSD and a TBI.
Sean is still active-duty with the Marines, but recovering at Camp Lejeune from trauma after multiple exposure to explosions during three combat deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan.
All four gentlemen have a history with Freedom Alliance, having participated in our programs and events, and we keep in touch with them and their families regularly.
After arriving on a Thursday from the Atlanta airport to Lake Lanier, the vets were surprised to find that there was no itinerary. This is the ultimate in relaxation and enjoyment, as guests show up to lavish meals, interspersed with their choice of entertainment, which can range from fishing and water sports to sleeping in and conversation.
This is precisely what our four Marines did, delighting in lake activities, such as a nighttime boat cruise, jet skis, tubing, and swimming. A chartered fishing excursion resulted in some spotted bass, catfish, and other memorable catches.
On Saturday, the Scotts surprised us with special guests—our good friends Christopher and Demetria. This military couple is well loved by Freedom Alliance, since Chris returned from the war with a torn rotator cuff, damaged ear drum, TBI, neck and back injuries, and wounds from indirect fire and small arms. Since the VA rated Chris 100 percent disabled, their daughter is a Freedom Alliance scholarship recipient.
That evening we feasted on barbecue while catching up and playing corn hole. It was a grand time, with casual conversation and lots of laughter.
On Sunday night we said goodbye to Rita and David and headed back to the airport to board planes for home. On the way, the fellows retold stories from their Gainesville Getaway.
Later, waiting at the gate, Josh told us, “This was the most fun I’ve ever had.” And Sean agreed, stating, “Best weekend ever.”