Mass. couple's Caribbean villa a getaway for wounded troops

By GLOUCESTER DAILY TIMES, MASS. Published: May 23, 2014

GLOUCESTER, Mass. — A Gloucester veteran and his wife have contributed to a charity that provides dream vacations for wounded service men and women.

This is the fourth time that Bob and Germaine Fritz of Gloucester have donated their villa in the Caribbean for use by wounded veterans, through the Virginia-based organization Vacations for Veterans. Bob Fritz served in the U.S. Army in the 1970s.

The organization was founded in 2007 by Peggy and Chris Carr, both veterans of the Marine Corps. The mission is simple: to pair up Purple Heart recipients from the Iraq and Afghanistan campaigns with vacation home donors who offer them a free week in their homes.

So far, the charity has sent an estimated 450 veterans and their families on free vacations. There are more than 1,000 Purple Heart recipients on a waiting list.

“We are really excited that we have an extra-special vacation for one of our veterans this year. U.S. Army veteran Daniel Diaz will be going on a vacation to the British Virgin Islands with his family and will be staying for free at the ‘Dream Come True Villa’ owned by Bob and Germaine Fritz,” said Peggy Carr.

Diaz of California will travel with his wife and two children to the villa in Virgin Gorda. Diaz was wounded by an IED in Iraq, suffered cracked vertebrae and traumatic brain injury, but is recovering well.

“He and his family are thrilled to be going on this free trip,” said Carr. “This is a fabulous offer and one that is certainly unattainable for most of our wounded veterans this summer — and most of us.”

Through donations from many individuals, the charity also works to find money to pay for airfare for these Purple Heart veterans.

“Though people may be tired of hearing about Iraq and Afghanistan, the aftermath for these wounded veterans and their caretakers is ever-present, and through donations of vacation homes, time shares and funds to sponsor these dream vacations, the American people are showing that they truly value the service and sacrifice of our military,” Carr said.

Vacations for Veterans gets support from veterans themselves, in addition to others who know about the charity.

“We get people from all over, and the biggest donors are our veterans, from World War II, Vietnam and others who served,” Carr said.

For more information, contact Hadley Vukasovich at hadley@vacationsforveterans.org.

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