Bed and Breakfasts all over the country participate in the B&Bs for Vets program each Veterans Day by offering Veterans a free night’s stay.
The Chestnut Ridge Bed and Breakfast in Dunmore has participated in the program for four years now and has had several Veterans take them up on their offer.
“We do it a little different than some of the B&Bs,” co-owner Larry Garrettson said. “They give away the free night on Veterans Day. It didn’t make any sense to us because if you have to go back to work on Tuesday, nobody’s going to stay here overnight and then go to work. Paula and I thought we’ll just open up the weekend.”
Six veterans and their families came to visit the Garrettsons this past weekend.
Eli and Kathy Pollinger, of Niagara Falls, New York, found out about the B&Bs for Vets program online and decided to turn the weekend into a longer trip to visit family, as well as enjoy the scenery and stay in Pocahontas County.
“We just thought that was such a wonderful thing and we have family farther down,” Eli said. “We’re going to be going to North Carolina and we’re going to kind of make a loop back around. It’s just wonderful to have a place like this extend this courtesy to a Veteran. This is quite a courtesy and really a blessing.”
Eli served in the Air Force during the Vietnam era and later went on to work for the government.
“I had a Pentagon appointment to work as a behavioral health specialist with returning soldiers,” he said. “I saw the gamut from World War II from people who went through the Bataan Death March to people who are presently suffering from PTSD [Post Traumatic Stress Disorder]. It’s so fantastic to say that I got to see eight theaters of war and have been involved in it, and listening to it. It’s a blessing to help.”
Cyrus and Sonia Best, of Chesapeake, Virginia, also found the B&B program online and couldn’t wait to take a vacation in the country.
“We wanted a more quaint place because we still live in a large town,” Sonia said. “This is actually our first time doing the Veteran Reward. They do a lot for the Veterans in our area but it’s so busy with the hustle and bustle, we just needed to get away and do something that’s different. We were telling [Larry] when we first met that this was the first day we’ve had at a bed and breakfast.”
Cyrus joined the Navy in 1986 and was deployed during Desert Storm and Desert Shield. He now works for the government as an accountant.
“I was on the USS Wisconsin, the battleship there and we were the first who shot the missiles at the Iraqis,” he said. “We were the ones that started the Desert Storm part of Desert Shield. I was there nine months. I was nineteen-twenty-years-old and that was my first time with the military.”
As a veteran, Cyrus said he was really pleased to see that the B&Bs in the country were showing support in their own way.
“It’s real special to me,” he said. “When I called Larry, we had a really friendly conversation. I booked the room while at my job, and I was so excited to come home and tell my wife about it.”
The third couple didn’t have as far to travel as the others.
Mike and Erica Kearns are from Clendenin and wanted a getaway that wasn’t too far away.
“An acquaintance of ours told Mike about it so I looked it up on the Internet and found some places,” Erica said. “We’ve never been to this part of the state ever. Dunmore? I don’t know where that’s at but it sounds like somewhere we definitely need to go is what I thought.”
“There’s one reason we came here, because of [Larry’s] gratuity,” Mike added. “We thought this would be a great opportunity to see the area and have a great evening.”
Mike was a member of the 82nd Airborne Army.
“I jumped out of planes and then I hurt my knee pretty bad,” he said. “Most of my knee was redone and after I left [the Army], I started teaching.”
The B&Bs for Vets program is part of The Better Way to Stay campaign organized by the Professional Association of Innkeeprs International.
Suzanne Stewart may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org