Thousands of military families throughout the United States are struggling to manage a wide variety of stressors that can take a toll on relationships after a deployment. Injuries, depression and financial strain can be devastating in even the most resilient families.
“One way we can help them is to provide opportunities for them to reconnect with their families and make up for some of the quality time they lost,” said Freedom Alliance Executive Director, Calvin Coolidge.
Recently Freedom Alliance brought together two military families for a vacation in Huntington Beach, California, as part of our “Poppy’s Wish Heroes Vacations.” These vacations give us the opportunity to thank and honor our service members and their families, by providing them time to relax and spend together.
Marine Corporal Larry, his wife Kaytlin and their 2 yr. old son Garon were the first family to arrive in Huntington Beach. Cpl Larry lost both of his legs and two fingers due to an IED blast on May 31, 2009 in Afghanistan. He was on foot patrol around their basecamp when an IED exploded under his feet. The force of the blast was so great that it threw him through the air.
Tourniquets were applied to both of his legs and he was carried by a stretcher for over half and hour to a medevac vehicle. He was flown to Bagram before being sent to Landstuhl, Germany and Bethesda Naval Hospital, finally arriving at Walter Reed Army Medical where he just finished his therapy.
Army Staff Sergeant Robert, his wife Lisa and their two sons Diego, 8, and Rodrigo (nick named Yoyo), 7, arrived about an hour after.
SSG Robert was training Iraqi soldiers in Mosul, Iraq in January of 2011 when one of the Iraqi soldier defected and opened fire on Robert and his men, Robert was shot in the head. The bullet penetrated his helmet but ricocheted off his skull and exited out of the back of the helmet. Robert survived, but two of his men were killed. He was flown to Germany and then to Bethesda where he met up with his family and then Walter Reed. The next step in Robert’s recovery is to insert a titanium plate in the part of his skull that was shattered completely.
Both families stayed at the beautiful Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach Resort & Spa that boasts spectacular views and luxury amenities. Larry particularly enjoyed the three outdoor hot tubs that provided some relief for his aching limbs. Diego and Yoyo enjoyed the Hyatt’s “Slyder’s Water Playground.”
Disneyland, just minutes away from the hotel was also a popular destination for both families through out the week.
The families concluded their vacation with a dinner together in a private room at The Californian, a restaurant in the Hyatt. Both families expressed their extreme gratitude for the opportunity to vacation in Orange County, California.
Freedom Alliance is proud to have had the privilege of hosting these families; however it would not have been possible without the generosity and support that our donors have shown.
Below is a slide show with photos from our Freedom Alliance 2011 Poppy’s Wish Heroes Vacation in Huntington Beach, California.