To the Editor:
Since 2005 Operation Open Arms has brought joy and happiness to 1,968 US Troops and their families visiting Southwest Florida on their combat leave.
This is a letter from a US Army Combat Medic who came to the aid of a soldier who was wounded in action. By the way, the wounded soldier became her husband on Jan. 7, 2012 courtesy of the Tarpon Lodge and Operation Open Arms. They were OOA's 92nd full service wedding. Sarah Ann's letter to me.
Hello. My name Sarah Woods. I heard about your services from someone on Sanibel Island last time I was on leave. I have heard you help out with weddings and what not. My husband and I are both Active Duty Army, having a wedding in January (7th) at Tarpon Lodge on Pine Island. Neither of our families are in a great position to help out with our wedding so we have taken it upon ourselves to pay for our big day. Back in April, we had a major setback, everything we had saved up and everything we had already paid for, was suddenly taken from us in one of the many tornadoes that we've had this year. We lost everything, our vehicles, our home, all of our savings, our military gear, our animals, and all of our clothes. Its been rough getting back on our feet to be honest, and its been rough planning this wedding and having to rebuy everything. Can you help us out in anyway ? We aren't looking for money or such things, but references to companies and vendors who will give us a bit of a discount. Thank you for your time, and your services, OOA is an amazing program. Thank you once again.
Spc Sarah Ann Woods
US Army Combat Medic
If you received the above plea for help, what would you do? OOA has received criticism for lifting the entire expense of a weddings for Our Troops. "You are making our troops too soft. No one sent me cookies or brownies when I was in Nam. You are doing our troops more harm than good with all your free this and free that."
Operation Open Arms supports Our Troops unconditionally.
The Rev John "GiddyUp" Bunch
Founder/Operation Open Arms