Offutt helps salute local wounded warriors
By Ryan Hansen, 55th Wing Public Affairs
/ Published February 21, 2013
OMAHA, Neb. -- More than 50 wounded warriors and their families were honored for their service during the inaugural Salute to America's Heroes event that took place throughout Omaha Feb. 15-17.
Attendees were given two nights at a hotel, tickets to the Durham Museum, Joslyn Art Museum and Omaha Children's Museum, and passes to the Coco Key indoor water resort all for free thanks to the Wounded Warrior Family Support Program.
"While our organization is nationwide, it is headquartered here in Omaha so we wanted to let our local veterans and families know we're here and doing something for them right in our own community," said Kate McCauley, Wounded Warriors Family Support program director.
McCauley said she was thankful for all of the local businesses that stepped up to support the event as well as the 55th Force Support Squadron's Airman and Family Readiness Center at Offutt Air Force Base for their assistance.
"We were honored to help and glad to be there for these warriors who gave so much to our country," said Richard Elsbury, Airman and Family Readiness Center community readiness consultant and base wounded warrior manager.
Overall, the Salute to America's Heroes event was designed as a retreat for wounded warriors and their families.
"Our goal was to help rebuild relationships, establish a social network and provide an atmosphere that is fun while gaining resiliency for wounded warriors and their families," Elsbury said.
In addition to the free community activities offered, attendees were also afforded the opportunity to learn about valuable resources available to them on base such as the Airman and Family Readiness Center, chapel and family advocacy as well as multiple local community resources.
"We had advocates from every military service there to answer questions and assist the wounded warriors and their families," Elsbury said.
While some attendees took advantage of all the offerings, some just used the time to relax and reconnect.
"We have such a busy life at home that it's been very nice just to chill at the hotel," said Troy Green, a staff sergeant with the Missouri Air National Guard and Purple Heart recipient, who attended with his wife and their children. "This has been a great opportunity to step away from our daily lives and bond as a family."
Some of the local contributors were Wounded Warrior Family Support, Suburban Rotary, Family Entertainment Group, Durham Museum, Omaha Children's Museum, Joslyn Art Museum, Nebraska Furniture Mart, Big "T" Survivor Bracelets, Monkey's Make Me Smile and Edible Arrangements.
"This was a really good event," said James George, a retired Air Force captain and Purple Heart recipient, who attended with his wife, Robyn. "We've really enjoyed it and we're very appreciative of their support."
With the turnout and positive response, plans are already in the works to host a similar event in the future as well as some other opportunities for local veterans and their families.
"We have already talked about doing a future hiring fair for veterans during a weekend retreat," McCauley said.