SHARPTOWN, Md. – Ever since the government shutdown, it has not been easy for military members, both current and past, along with their families, and those who work for them here in Delmarva.
"It's been challenging, let's put it that way," says Ray Edwards, President of Heroes Haven Inc.
For veterans, among others, experts are predicting only a 1.5% increase in social security benefits in January, among the lowest in decades.
"It's been a big frustration on us," says Ralph Cordrey, Secretary of Heroes Haven Inc.
To add to the mix, after an entire year of planning, the Heroes Haven Wounded Warrior Event also got cut. The program brings wounded veterans from the Walter Reed Medical Center down to Sharptown for a five-day getaway of hunting, a banquet with dinner and live music, and a farewell breakfast on Sunday.
With employees at Walter Reed furloughed, transporting the warriors to the event became an issue, among some other problems. However, Heroes Haven organizers did not take no for an answer.
"Shutdown, no shutdown, we just keep marching on," says Jeff Merritt, coordinator for Operation We Care, an organization that sends care packages to troops and helps fund raise for the event. "We adapt, improvise and overcome."
After a long night of making calls and pulling strings, three out of the six wounded warriors were able to come to the event today on their own. Fellow veterans, military supporters, and the community did everything they could to give them a proper welcome. This included a motorcycle escort to the American Legion Post 218 in Sharptown, where Heroes Haven provided a homemade lasagna dinner.
"We were blessed to have three individuals come out," says Edwards. "We're very grateful."
"We lucked out, and we're very lucky, and very fortunate," says Cordrey.
For the other three veterans that were unable to make the event, Heroes Haven is hoping to hold another weekend in the future to make up for it.
As far as the stress they dealt with in making the event happen last minute, organizers say, it was all worth it.
"Anything we can do for these guys and the sacrifices they've made for us," says Merritt. "There's really nothing we can't do, nothing we shouldn't do."
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