By Sgt. Dan Grobelny
Jan 16, 2013 - 8:36:55 AM
As the conflict in Afghanistan rolls into the New Year, we continue to see our brave men and women deployed overseas. This will be especially true for members of the Delaware National Guard in 2013.
With 127 members of the Delaware Army National Guard's 153rd Military Police and approximately 20 aero-medical evacuation members of the Delaware Air National Guard already deployed, that's just the beginning, and we're not even through January. Both the Delaware Army and Air Guard are expected to deploy many more as the year progresses.
When Soldiers and Airmen deploy, they leave behind many things, not the least of which is their families. The stress of being deployed and leaving behind your family can be very difficult. Returning home to a life that continued while you were away can be even more difficult and filled with many challenges. Spending quality time reconnecting with family is a vital part of the reintegration process.
If you're looking for a place close to home to reconnect with family members, you need not look any further than the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Located in Berlin, Maryland is the Home of the Brave, a getaway for America's combat veterans and their families to spend quality time together.
The Home of the Brave was founded in 2009 by Tina Pearson after a friend shared her story of the difficulty reconnecting with her young son after returning from a deployment to Iraq. Her story got Tina wondering what could be done to help make the transition back home easier. Perhaps offering her quiet country home as a getaway for returning service members and their families to share a relaxing week together was the answer?
Tina met with people at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center and was assured that her idea would benefit many veterans. She began working with a local contractor to build a separate residence for herself and renovate the existing home - making it handicapped accessible.
Home of the Brave offers combat veterans a vacation at no cost - through the generosity of grateful Americans. They have hosted couples needing quality time together, multiple-generation families needing a place to come together and reconnect as well as small groups of veterans who just needed a little time to decompress with comrades who were dealing with some of the same post-deployment challenges. Whether their stay is for a weekend or a week, guests invariably leave with memories of the sense of peace they found at Home of the Brave and the knowledge that their sacrifices for their country are greatly appreciated. Getaways are available year-round and it is recommended that applications be submitted quickly, as only one group can be accommodated at a time.
After a yearlong deployment to Afghanistan with the Delaware Army National Guard's 1049th Transportation Company, I returned home in late May of 2012. While in Afghanistan, a flyer was posted about the Home of the Brave and I forwarded it to my wife. We had discussed a family vacation prior to my coming home and this sounded perfect. It was close to home and didn't require a lot of traveling, which I had my fill of already.
In mid June, my wife, two sons and I were joined by my in-laws for a week at the Home of the Brave. When we saw the house for the first time in person, we were excited. Tina Pearson met with us upon arriving and she was amazing. She filled us in on everything about the house, local activities, restaurants and we were presented with a gift basket filled with baked goods and gift cards to local businesses.
We took advantage of many of the activities available, but the highlight had to be the hang gliding. Not only did my wife and I try this, but our 10 year old son did as well. What an amazing thrill it was.
We still stay in touch with Tina and are forever grateful for her hospitality.
If you're interested in spending time, making a contribution or reading more about the Home of the Brave, please visit their website at www.thehomeofthebrave.us.