Wounded warriors get free vacation thanks to local nonprofit

GARDEN CITY, SC (WBTW) – In honor of Memorial Day, a local nonprofit gave dozens of active duty, wounded soldiers a week they’ll never forget. Scents for Soldiers gave them an all expenses paid, 6-day vacation, including a day out on the water.

Several local boaters volunteered to take the servicemen and their families out on the water to fish, jet ski, kayak and more. “We all needed a break. My daughter needed a break. And I know Miss Kesha needed a break”, says Blanche Chatman. She and her daughter, Patricia, came to Myrtle Beach, with three other friends they made during Patricia’s treatment at the Walter Reed Military Medical Center.

One of those friends is Lakesha Drayton. Doctors diagnosed her with a brain tumor last year. After serving in the U.S. Army for 22 years, she says that diagnosis felt like. “failure, a sense of humiliation but I’m making it.” And since getting out on the water Sunday morning, “I haven’t thought about sickness. I haven’t thought about illness. I haven’t thought about anything,” says Drayton.

Chatman has held her daughter’s hand as she’s battled sixth nerve palsy for the last year, a disease similar to multiple sclerosis, that has damaged Patricia’s vision in her left eye. “It’s hard to get her to relax. All she thinks about is, I can’t see, I can’t see, I can’t see. And now she’s not saying anything about it.” Patricia says she’s experienced a different kind of healing this week.  “It’s been nothing but heaven. To not be in the confined in the hospital walls and to be with people who genuinely care about you, who have never met you.”

 

This is the 7th year Tamie Boger, a sea captain herself, has organized the water day. She says the cause hits close to home.“My father was a marine, my brother was a marine. I served in the corp. What was closest to my heart was closes to my heart was service people veterans and my love for the water, so I just kind of combined them.” Drayton says her time on the water has taught her something she’ll carry past this weekend -“we’re still soldiers. But it’s ok to think about Keisha, instead of Sergeant First Class Drayton.  It’s alright to think about her.”