Georgia residents David and Rita Scott have made available their lovely home on Lake Lanier to wounded soldiers in need of a mini-vacation—an event we have nicknamed “The Gainesville Getaway.” Good friends of Freedom Alliance, Rita is a member our board of directors, and she and David make it possible for our organization to host bimonthly outreach dinners for Walter Reed patients.
Recently we escorted Jeremy, Dalton, and Dalton’s girlfriend, Corrine, to the Scott’s lakefront retreat. Jeremy and Dalton served together in Afghanistan with 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment. Jeremy was a veteran of three tours in Iraq, when he was sent for another tour of duty in Afghanistan. Just three weeks into the deployment, Dalton, functioning as squad leader, was shot in the leg and has since undergone treatment and multiple surgeries. Jeremy was exposed to several IED blasts, which caused a brain injury that manifested as a stutter for some time. He has attended the National Intrepid Center of Excellence program for traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder, and he continues his therapy at Walter Reed.
Both Marines are recipients of emergency grants from Freedom Alliance, and we’ve had the pleasure of receiving them at several of our events, including the aforementioned outreach dinners. As a matter of fact, David and Rita had read about both men before they were chosen for the trip, and they welcomed their guests with warm embraces and above-and-beyond Southern hospitality.
After a tour of the new digs, it was decided that the best hangout spot in the house was the second-story terrace, for its views of the lake and secluded ambiance. Several times a day we would gather there to sit and chat. But when the guys weren’t lingering on the patio, they were on the water. David and Rita kept us absorbed with jet skiing, wakeboarding, boating, and tubing—interspersed by fortifying naps. And for two buddy Marines, water sports were not as straightforward as one would expect. For instance, tubing turned into wrestling, when the goal was to see who could knock the other off his inflatable tube at breakneck speeds. We ended the first full day exhausted, but with huge grins and a “Midnight Cruise” on David’s boat, complete with cigars and cocktails.
The next morning, we met at the dock, where we were picked up by Rick, a fishing guide who has been trolling Lake Lanier since 1981. Storms seemed to lurk behind heavy gray clouds and rain spat ominously on the deck. But Rick’s enthusiasm was catching, and despite the moody weather, he had us anticipating a splendid day of fishing. Sure enough, after a short ride to Rick’s special fishing spot, Dalton and Jeremy landed themselves a couple of spotted bass. Not long after that, they both caught stripers, over 30 inches long and fat! When it looked like the threatening storm would finally have its way, we rushed back to the Scotts with fantastic photos to share and a final steak dinner to look forward to.
At the end of the vacation, Jeremy and Dalton seemed unable to pinpoint their favorite part of the trip. All the memories were too good to narrow it down to a single big moment. One thing was agreed on, and that was that in the midst of hospital visits, physical therapy, and medical boards, their lake house vacation was godsend.