A chance to escape every day with family, friends, and fellow soldiers. Veterans are visiting Perdido Key this week, staying in donated condos with their loved ones for free. Part of the week’s activities included a sunset dolphin tour with Wild Hearts in Orange Beach. The families and soldiers told us sometimes changing your views can help change your life.
Sunset cruises run just about every sunny day in Orange Beach and Perdido Key, but Tuesday’s cruise is different.
“Some of them can’t even afford a vacation since they’ve been out of services,” said Lucky Rogers, who works with Wounded War Heroes. “This is the first time they’re venturing out with their family. ”
Some of the families are there with the Wounded Warrior Project, others are with Wounded War Heroes. All of them are on vacation, with almost no costs to their families.
“It’s probably the first time since 2011, like right before I left for the war, that I had a chance to take a real vacation,” said Chris Brown, a Marine. “Get to hang out and relax… so it’s great.”
Brown is here with some of his friends for a guys trip. He says having time to relax away from the base and talk about his deployment has been therapeutic.
“You start talking about your guys… and we got hit pretty hard there in Afghanistan,” Brown said. “So, it’s kind of different when you’re talking to someone who has never been there. I kind of hold back a little bit for my wife and family, cause you just don’t want to expose them to what you go through. So, talking with people who have been there and done that… it makes it a little bit easier.”
While some are healing through talking, others, like Johnny Graves, find being more social and helping others is helping him heal.
“I don’t have to pretend, I don’t have to be around,” Graves said of the way his comrades communicate. “He can look at me, or I can look at one of my other brothers or sisters and if they’re in a bad mood or they look like they’re down, I can judge whether they wanna be alone or if they need somebody to talk to.”
With the dolphins jumping in the gulf, and the group enjoying themselves, the company providing the sailboat tour took a minute to say thanks.
“This is an incredible opportunity for us when we get to give back to the folks that have sacrificed so much and worked so hard so that were able to do this,” said the boat’s captain Zach Smith.
The cruise will dock, and the families will continue their trip, but for two hours, they were able to relax, unwind, and bond in their brotherhood.
To donate to Wounded War Heroes, click here.
To donate to Wounded Warrior Project, click here.