The Padron Family
Since the day we the left The Bahamas, I’ve been trying to find the right words to let everyone know how grateful we are for you putting together a perfect vacation for us. I’m sure all of you can imagine our life hasn’t been easy… but we were able to get through it all and came back stronger than ever. Many tears were shed, many feelings of frustration, many setbacks, but we were able to pull through together and work as a team. We sometimes forget to take time for ourselves and do some reflection. Reflect on the things that are important and the things that mean the most to us. During our week away we were able to re connect and learn new things about each other. We learned how good of a swimmer our daughter is, about how much we love homemade meals, how much we enjoy family time, how much we love seen each other smile, and how important is to practice self-care. Thanks for doing this for families like ours. The memories made during our trip will be always saved in a special part of our heart. Ms. Karen, thanks for treating us like family and make us feel so loved. Please let everyone know how much their actions have impacted our lives in a positive way and we will be forever grateful.
The Sosa Family
Everybody has a job, everyone has a busy and hectic schedule; day in day out and sometimes you don’t realize how tired, overwhelmed or sleep deprived you are worrying about your husbands well-being while you’re counting down the days for his return home. Our family has been going through deployments as a military family for 19 years and counting, and they never get easier especially when kids are involved. As a busy family we make the best of our time together when my husband is home. We take little trips here and there and visit new places to enhance our quality time together so when Host A Hero told us we were chosen to take an all-expense paid Bahamian vacation we were surprised and excited to go somewhere new. The more we learned about the vacation the more we couldn’t believe it. It almost sounded too good to be true but it wasn’t – it was exactly what Karen described and explained to us and more. First the kids got to miss school with the teacher’s blessings, then we got a chance to ride in a private plane without the stresses of a busy airport and arrived hassle free in the beautiful Berry Islands of the Bahamas with Karen as our host and tour guide. When we arrived at the beach house and saw the ocean view we felt immensely bless and overwhelmed that we had the whole place to ourselves for 5 days. The kids were in heaven and running around free playing on the beach. My husband and I sat down and watch them for hours and relaxed without a care in the world. We had dinner on the deck and enjoyed the sounds of the waves that reminded us of being in Coronado, California where we had been stationed for decades. We did this every night and every chance we got to be outside enjoying the beach that unbeknownst to us – we had all to ourselves. One of the most memorable things we did was our Bahamian smores night. I call it “Bahamian” because we had to improvise our traditional smores with coconut cookies, colorful marshmallows, and white chocolate because that’s what the local stores had and that’s what we used. I made dinner while my husband and the kids were outside gathering branches from the old dried trees nearby and made a fire pit on the beach. I took so many pictures from the patio deck watching them work so hard to make it perfect. Nothing makes my heart melt more than watching my 2 kids spend one on one time with their Dad. He travels and works so hard on his long trips that when he’s home every moment counts. Sometimes, it takes my husband time to recoup and jump back into our busy schedule which is why this trip was a blessing in disguise. My husband arrived two days earlier and before we knew it we were in the Bahamas as a family enjoying the rough life of relaxing day in day out. My kids all slept in, (even the one that doesn’t sleep in) fell asleep at a decent hour with the sound of the waves and had no schedule or list of things to do. Our most stressful decisions were; what time do we go hang out on the beach or go on our beach walk. Alex & Karen also flew in on Saturday to give us a boat tour of the local islands and a chance to jump into the Blue Hole with my daughter which gave me a chance to use the phrase YOLO (You Only Live Once) and catch her off guard to motivate her to jump! It gave my husband and I a moment of pride to see my daughter relax and enjoy the moment as did my son and husband when they jumped together. Other days we drove around the island and discovered a great beach to kayak in and explore all the different colors of the water without a care in the world. This trip made the best of our time together and smoothly brought my husband back to our family pace without the hustle of our daily lives. It made the best our time together which set the tone for the months he’s home before his next deployment. Host A Hero gave our family the time we didn’t think we needed and for that I am eternally grateful.
Individual testimonials from Special Operations Forces (SOF) operators
names have been withheld due to confidentialty.
Alex and Karen, I wanted to start by thanking both of you, Manny and the Host-A-Hero organization for this tremendous experience. We all know it is our spouses who have the burden of coping with and understanding a very complicated job and deployment cycle. From my perspective, this is by far the most effective decompression program around – truly unbelievable! Throughout the last 26 years of being in the Special Operations arena I’ve had experiences from the myriad of ͞like͟ programs but all pale in comparison. From the way you first interact with Manny, Karen and the Host-A-Hero Staff, to the actual family-focused decompression process which is provided in a very relaxing/therapeutic atmosphere. I firmly believe that if our SOCOM Units participated in this – they would not only get more out their Operators, they would get much more support from the FAMILIES which in turn makes a better and more focused Operator. We as commandos are able to focus on the mission downrange much better when we know the wife and home front is stable, strong and taken care of. This program and the way we were able to reconnect as a family (after a combined 78 months downrange, most of which were combat deployments in CENTCOM) – proved that. I feel re-charged and able to continue deploying. This war isn’t going away anytime soon so the sooner our SOF Units (military and civilian) comprehend that and provide their warriors opportunities such as these, the stronger and healthier our SOF Forces will be.
We would like to thank everyone at HostAHero.org (HAH) and especially Karen, her husband Alex and lastly Manny for the amazing opportunity they provided us in the Bahamas. My family and I were able to spend quality time together in an amazing atmosphere without a care in the world. The entire experience was an adventure of a life time for my 2 young daughters. We were able to spend uninterrupted time together in the fun and sun while we enjoyed all sorts of exploits around the islands. HAH ensured we had everything we could need for 8 days so we could enjoy each other’s company. The beach house and amenities were absolutely beautiful and clean with all the comforts of home. When we first heard about this opportunity we thought it was too good to be true. I am so thankful I took a chance and applied. Thank you HAH!