Program provides R&R for purple heart recipients

By Tracey Amick  bio | email

SEABROOK ISLAND, SC (WCSC) - Soldiers and airmen are sacrificing and fighting overseas to keep us safe, and many of them are injured and disabled when they return. So a few years ago, Margaret Carr and her husband started Vacations for Veterans in Washington D.C., as a way to give back and say thanks.

The program provides free week-long vacations for veterans, like Dan Erickson, who stayed on Seabrook Island in May. They match veterans with homes donated by owners.

"We came in on that main road and we got to see the trees hanging over the road with the Spanish moss," Erickson said.

One month later, Erickson and his family are still talking about the experience.

"Just how quiet it was and the house, we were looking at the pictures again last night looking at the house. We miss it a lot," Erickson said.

Erickson was deployed to Iraq in 2003 where he earned the Purple Heart.

"I drove over an IED road bomb and injured my arm," he said.

Jim Nardi says donating his secondary home on Seabrook Island is the least he can do.

"It's a great thing that we can do for these people," Nardi said. "I mean they give up their families they go into these other countries, they support us in every way possible."

So far there are hundreds of homes across the United State being donated to these veterans, and in South Carolina there are 33.

"We did the horseback riding, went down to the beach, brought the kids down there, went to Charleston, did tours there, Magnolia Plantation, Patriots Point," Erickson recalled.

Erickson said this trip was just the rest and relaxation they needed.

"Vets really do appreciate it and most of us probably wouldn't be able to do anything like this if it weren't for people donating," he said. "It felt really nice to know there are people out there who care."

Right now the program is only available to Purple Heart recipients who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, but they hope to expand to include other veterans.

If you'd like to help Vacations for Veterans, click here.

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