It makes my day when the flight attendant announces at the end of a flight that the men and women in our armed forces that are onboard will be allowed to get off the plane first. This usually sparks some applause as these brave Americans leave the plane. But these small acts of kindness don't seem to happen nearly as often as they should. Are we doing enough to say thanks? I know I could do better, but for one guy in Maine, he's going well beyond the call of duty with his Operation Recognition program.
Founded by Roger Bintliff of Edgecomb Development LLC in Maine, Operation Recognition is a non-profit, non-partisan group that was established to deliver a long-overdue thank you to our servicemen and women.
"They risk their lives for our protection and well-being and we believe they deserve a meaningful gesture of appreciation, which is a week of rest and relaxation in Maine," says Bintliff. "We're here to make it the best possible experience these soldiers and their families could ever imagine."
From World War II veterans to the men and women in active service today, all military personnel are eligible to participate in Operation Recognition. And as its fledgling organization grows, Bintliff hopes to be able to reach out to as many families as possible and has made the difference in the lives of nearly 60 families in the first two years.
Operation Recognition hosts families at the Sheepscot Harbour Village & Resort in Edgecomb, Maine, which Bintliff owns.
"We said thanks to our first military family on Memorial Day weekend in 2007," recalls Bintliff. "They were our guests for a relaxing and private week at the resort on the beautiful coast of Maine. Everything was paid for and the only thing we asked is for the family to enjoy their well deserved R & R."
The soldier isn't the only one who sacrifices while deployed and that's why it's so important to Bintliff that this week-long vacation means that no one has to do the cooking or cleaning while they're being rewarded at the resort for their efforts.
"Families sacrifice too and it's a hard adjustment for everyone when the soldier returns," explains Bintliff. "Doctors should be prescribing family vacations, not medicine."
The goal is to grow the number of military families that they can thank so that Operation Recognition will reach out to thousands of military members and their families each year. The response to Operation Recognition has been overwhelming from both individuals and companies including Ed Rice, who owns and operates River Run Tours.
Rice was asked to participate with The Sheepscot Harbour & Resort, Bintliff's Ocean Grille and others in supporting the troops through Operation Recognition and he gladly accepted. Rice, through his River Run Tours, offers an absolutely free-of-charge, two-hour coastal tour to each and every family hosted.
"For someone like Ed to do this is huge," says Bintliff. "He sacrifices a large part of his business to take these families out on his boat."
Rice started River Run Tours in 2005, and his tours on his 25-foot G3 pontoon have become a popular attraction to both locals and tourists. From spotting eagles and seals to lighthouse tours and fall foliage, River Run Tours is the only way to truly experience Maine. He enjoys giving back to the troops and gets the most satisfaction knowing these families enjoy their time on the water and don't take it for granted.
"I am proud to be a part of this and I have made many new friends," says Rice. "And I will continue to offer all families the same opportunity."
Great programs like Operation Recognition are designed to give thanks to the men and women in our armed forces and through support of others they can continue to grow. For more information on how you can help support this great program please visit www.operationrecognition.com.