Veterans and Visit Dream Destinations, LLC
By Hank Schrader, Maj (ret), Infantry, USMA ’71
On the 11 of November, 2018, we will be celebrating the 100 Anniversary of Veterans Day. This celebration started as Armistice Day, as on the 11th hour of the 11th day in the 11th month the guns fell silent with the end of WW I. It has evolved in the US to Veteran’s Day.
The last 100 years has shaped our modern military. For 55 years of that era, our clients have served and helped with this process.
So, I thought it would be appropriate to salute the many veterans and their families who trust us to plan their travel.
They are an amazing group who have defended our country and deserve recognition for their sacrifices.
Currently we have about 91 folks who actively use us to plan their travel (I define active as have or will use us in a 2 year period). Of those, 46 are veterans. For you math whizzes, that is 50.5% of our clients.
They are quite a diverse group. Most served in the Army. We also have veterans from the Air Force and Coast Guard.
We all have an instant bond. We trust one another. We know what sacrifice is all about. We are proud we served our country. We are humble and satisfied we did our jobs without much notoriety. We respect one another. We respect what others in the military have done with us and for us and those who came before and will come after us—it is an unbroken string of dedication, service and often times personal sacrifice.
So let’s learn a little more about these present day American heroes who are members of the Dream Destinations’ family.
They have Served Our Country with Distinction
For about 55 years or so, this group has been involved safeguarding our country and furthering America’s foreign policy. They have served in combat in Vietnam, Grenada, Panama, Bosnia, the Global War on Terrorism and the Gulf Wars. Some have served as Special Forces and in the Delta forces. They have flown aircraft, jumped out of them, maintained them, and used them to pursue criminals violating our laws. They have protected our coasts, fought in jungles, in the desert sand countries and in the mountains.
It takes a special breed of person to do what they had to do for our country—if it was in a news headline of the last 55 years or so and it involved a military operation, someone in this group had something to do with it. They did not read about history—they helped make it.
The Army Group
Not surprisingly, if you know anything about me, my West Point graduate friends make up the majority of our Army veterans who travel with us. Anyone of this group who went through the 47 months of West Point and served their country for 5 years or more as an officer is a dedicated leader of character (kinda of refreshing to talk about character is a positive light, isn’t it?).
I would be remiss if I did not also include the many other fine officers and NCO’s (sergeant’s) who also use us for some of their travel needs. They are an equally distinguished group. Regardless of how they entered the Army, we are equals in dedication and service.
While we never boast about earned ranks from our Army friends, they range from Major General (2 stars) to Command Sergeant Major. Many were key players in shaping our Army’s legacy and destiny. They achieved distinction by earning high ranks—it is a mark of their dedication and exceptional service to our nation.
The Air Force Group
This group is dominated by Air Force Academy grads—the same kudos about leaders of character apply to these wonderful folks.
Their service includes flying aircraft, missile defense, and support operations. Their technical skills were and are exceptional and they are equally great leaders.
A Special Shout—Our Niece Mindy
We do have to point out a special member of the Air Force group—our niece Mindy. She is on active duty, serving as an E-7 (Sergeant) and a financial specialist. Dependable and fun loving—she is a positive testament to the good folks serving us in today’s military.
Our Dear Friend Mark, the Coast Guard Master Chief
As the lone Coast Guard military member of this group, Mark may be one of the most unique. 31 years of service, retiring as a master chief, and a true connoisseur of wines (earning professional certification as a wine educator). We have traveled with them since 2013 and are much better for knowing him and his wife Denise.
Denise and Mark have helped us learn more about wine and with our Scottish heritage.
It never surprises me to learn about the hidden talents of my military friends—they are doers, thinkers, problem solvers and fun to be with.
The Family Members
We should never forget the spouses and family members who support the men and women of our military travel clients. They too are a special breed who often made it possible for their significant other to serve without worrying about the home fires. They are our champions, our biggest cheerleaders and put up with us.
My Final Thoughts
It is humbling to know these distinguished folks trust us—we try to uphold their high standards by serving them as well as they served or are serving our country.
What is even better about this group is they are friends first and clients second—we are honored to know them!
I hope you have enjoyed reading a little about the brave folks who trust us with their travel planning. Please take a moment of two to think about how these folks and any other veteran you might know have helped you live a safe, secure life and have allowed you in some small way to pursue your dreams.
I know I can speak for the group by saying they would all say it was an honor to serve their country.
Well done my comrades in arms—you have made America a better place to live in due to your service. YOU FOLKS ROCK!!