From dinners to game nights to getaways, many families enjoy regular time together to unwind and connect. But such simple pleasures are denied to military families, who must deal with the deployment of one partner and parent for months or even years at a time. And when the service member returns home, readjustment to civilian life can prove challenging. That’s where Operation Appreciation’s Red, White & Bear cabin comes in: providing a much-needed retreat for veterans and their families to restore and reconnect.
A Nature and Spa Retreat
Red, White & Bear is Operation Appreciation’s newest resource to support National Guard and Reserve members in their reintegration to civilian life. Nestled in the mountains of Hiawassee, Georgia, the log cabin features a full kitchen, a living room, four bedrooms, wraparound porches, a screened-in porch, and a Sundance® spa on the terrace level. There is as much outdoor living space as there is indoor, giving military families the chance to enjoy nature as well as time in the spa, where tremendous emotional and physical healing takes place.
“Our intent is to get people in nature so they have time to transition and reintegrate,” says Beth
Waters, president of Operation Appreciation. “That opportunity is so important for making memories and letting go of stress.”
The Guest Experience
Waters—a military spouse herself—began welcoming service members and their families to Red, White & Bear in the summer of 2017, and has hosted 33 guests to date.
One couple came to the cabin with their three young children, none of whom had ever been on vacation.
The children loved everything about the experience, and the couple enjoyed much-needed time together in the spa, where they were able to relax and reconnect. After the trip, the family sent a Christmas card saying that weekend was the highlight of their year.
“People come in as strangers and leave as family,” says Waters.
Though most veterans visit immediately after deployment, one couple with physical disabilities came to the cabin to recharge and heal after being home for a few years. Another service member used his rest-and-retreat time during deployment to experience a reprieve at the cabin. Whatever the need, Red, White & Bear is there to meet it and do everything possible to enhance each person’s experience.
As Waters says, “It’s important to show our loyalty to those who serve our country.”
The Healing Power of Hydrotherapy
Of course, the spa is a key element of the cabin retreat. When Waters saw what a difference hot tub time made for her Army husband’s aches and pains, she wanted to offer that same experience to other service men and women.
“Their bodies take a pounding, and the spa allows them to soothe, relax, and heal their aching joints naturally,” she explains. “Many times our service members carry burdens they don’t share with other people. Having an opportunity to reconnect with family opens bridges of communication.”
Each guest at Red, White & Bear has ample opportunity to soak in the spa, releasing physical, mental, and emotional burdens in a secluded spot.
“There is not one family that has not taken advantage of the spa,” Waters attests. “Things have a way of happening while you’re out there in the spa that you don’t anticipate, and at the end of it, you know you’re in a good place.”
Ready to relax and reconnect with your family? Find your Sundance® spa today.