Military veterans are revered in America. Whether they served in uniform for four years or 20 years, they gave up a portion of their life to defend the country they love and the citizens who reside therein. Many of them placed college and careers on hold while they completed what they felt was their patriotic duty. Though this time away may have put them behind the eight ball from advancing a career in the civilian sector or making educational preparations for their futures, they are proud to have done it.
All too often veterans have special needs which make it a struggle to integrate back into the society they left behind. They may be physically or mentally wounded from their experiences so a typical vacation among throngs of fanny-pack wearing tourists may be difficult to impossible for them to handle.
Active duty military members returning from a tough deployment have similar issues. Because they still wear a uniform and could be deployed yet again, their time at home is precious. Any chance to get away and relax for a while is well-deserved and needed.
Fortunately, there are free places where veterans and those still on active duty can receive a welcomed R&R in the company of their peers, who happen to be some of the few who truly understand why they desperately need this break in the first place.
Blum’s Landing – Millersburg, Mich.
As is stated on their website, “Blum’s Landing has been established for those persons who have defended our freedom during the War on Terror. It is not a rehabilitation center; but rather our home serves as a free bed and breakfast retreat for those active or inactive personnel and their immediate family over a short period of time.”
Terry and Janet Blumberg built Blum’s Landing in honor of their son, Sgt. Trevor A. Blumberg, who was simply known as “Blum” to his fellow soldiers. Blum was killed in Fallujah, Iraq. He was part of the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division and had also served in Korea and Afghanistan. Sgt. Trevor had asked his parents to take care of his dog and his guys if he didn’t make it home.
Blum’s Landing sits on 12 acres near the shores of Lake Huron. With the help of friends, volunteers, and an untold amount of money, it is now open for reservations. A couple of days of relaxation won’t cost veterans or military personnel even one thin dime.
Fishing, kayaking, and canoeing are just a few of the activities that can be enjoyed.
Base Camp 40, Warrior’s in the Wild – Colorado
Base Camp 40 hosts veterans on several ranches in Colorado located on private land. Their goal is simple. It’s to give back to the veterans who have sacrificed so much.
The group takes veterans on a 5-day elk hunting excursion for a trip they will never forget. They hike straight into the elk’s natural habitat, camp, share stories, and have a relaxing time of fellowship. “Reel Heroes” fishing expeditions allow veterans to get out on the water, as well.
Plans are underway to start similar programs in Kentucky, Alabama, and Texas, and they are also working on setting up fishing expeditions in British Columbia.
FAVE Boating Expeditions – Ruskin, FL
The FAVE Boating program is part of My Warrior’s Place, which offers a variety of services to veterans and their families. In their own words, “Our boating trips offer a variety of boating excursions for our Veterans, Military Service Members and Gold Star Families whose life has been touched and forever changed by the death of a Fallen Warrior. Our goal is to honor, support and promote healing of the mind and spirit in a relaxed environment.”
Phillip Mockler, a deputy in Sarasota County, and a USMC veteran started FAVE in 2007. Mockler had this to say, “Upon returning from Afghanistan in 2006, I attempted to navigate the VA system for my medical and educational benefits and repeatedly found cracks in the system where our veterans were not getting the service and care they deserve. As I looked closer, I saw that many of our veteran heroes were also the same men and women protecting our streets as law enforcement officers and firefighters. In frustration, I began searching the local area for organizations dedicated to helping our heroes. What I found was hundreds of organizations that provide either a service or a discount to our heroes and their families. Unfortunately, these organizations were very difficult to find and our heroes were not getting the help they desperately needed.”
The organization is running a GoFundMe campaign to purchase a new pontoon boat that will be outfitted to accommodate wheelchairs.
Veteran Tickets Foundation
No matter where you live if you are the family of a military member killed in action, a veteran, or serving on active duty, Veteran Tickets Foundation will help you get free tickets to sporting events, family activities, concerts, and to the performing arts.
The non-profit group believes this helps veterans and military members stay engaged and active within their communities, and that attending entertainment events helps reduce their levels of stress.
Here is what they had to say,”Giving free event tickets is an expression of appreciation, acknowledgment and an enduring symbol that we, as a nation, honor the service of our troops today and long after their tour of duty has passed. Helping our veterans attend events provides positive family and life experiences after their years of service to our country.”
There are more organizations and private individuals willing to show their appreciation to America’s military veterans and active duty members, with either free activities or some fairly monumental discounts. If you fall under either of these categories, you’ve earned it. Now, go claim it.