Troop Rewards provides recovery vacations to returning U.S. soldiers and their families who served overseas. To do that, Troop Rewards relies on hotels and private vacation property owners to donate unused inventory, sort of like a hotel might release a number of rooms to Priceline for bidding.
This year, Florida’s Sandpearl resort is teaming up with Troop Rewards to provide recovery vacations for five military service members who were deployed during Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.
“This is such a great way to honor, remember and reward the servicemen and women who have served and defended our freedom in Iraq and Afghanistan over the last ten years,” said Tom Burkett, Troop Reward’s Executive Director. “To be able to team up with such a beautiful and inspiring resort is icing on the cake.”The idea of recovery vacations started with a phone call Burkett received in 2009 from a soldier then serving in Iraq. The soldier’s tour was about to end but before re-joining society with his future wife, he wondered what the cost would be to book Burkett’s timeshare suite at a Florida resort.
Burkett told him the going rate was over $800 per night, but for him the rate would be $0. “How can I charge you anything when you have spent the last year risking your life for my freedom,” Burkett says on the TroopRewards website. “Little did he know at the time, that this would the first of many free stays at his resort for soldiers coming back from Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.”
Since then, Burkett has offered his suite every year to help support the troops and enlisted other private vacation property owners, hotels and resorts to provide rooms, raise money to help pay for travel costs and spending money, making the experience mostly free for soldiers and their families.