Thursday, July 11, 2013

Finding Patriotism in Unexpected Places (aka, soooooo staying here any time I need a hotel room!)

So, as most of you know... in the world of non-profits, we're sort of a "little engine that could".  We serve *A LOT* of heroes, hearts, and homes (tens of thousands a month) on a budget that most organizations would laugh at.

We - heroes and families around the country - all volunteer our time (many of us routinely work 100+ hour weeks in between caring for heroes, families, annnnnnd dealing with PTSD and TBI ourselves).  We're a bit of an enigma... and, honestly, we're proud of that.

But, that budget means we do a lot of creative thinking (and asking).  Everything we need to help veterans and families (many of them in increasingly challenging situations) comes from asking - from explaining to people "outside" of this Life After Combat what the need is (and hoping, praying, and wishing that they'll step forward to help).

This week a Veteran family that 10 days ago was out of options and trying to figure out *how* to handle an impossible situation is headed for safety, security, and support.  They have a bit of hope.  They will not (thank God) be living in their car... an unfortunately ever increasing occurrence among heroes and those who love them.

But then, we had the "point A to point B" predicament.  With almost 40 hours of road between them and their new spot, it meant days and nights on the road.

Several Veteran families stepped up and offered homes along the way.

But, we were stuck without any options on a looooooooooooong stretch across Texas.

This morning, I picked up the phone, called the LaQuinta Inn in Columbus, TX, and started my "spiel".  I explained the predicament, explained that we were a 501(c)3 non-profit, and asked if they had any sort of discount they could offer.

Now, you've got to understand at this point, I spend many of these calls (or calls like them, but with other needs), sort of trying to convince someone in the span of 60 seconds that I'm legitimate, that the need is real, that I'll offer paperwork, a tax deductible receipt, etc, etc.  It's 60 seconds convincing a stranger to help me (whom they've never met) help someone else (whom they've never met).  Often, the answer is something like a 10% discount at best.  Sad, but true.

And, I'll also say that the reason I was calling sooooo close to the night that the room was needed is because this week, my family's own "Life After Combat" has been at it's worse.  We've been in suicide prevention / no holes barred / holy crap I just need a breath mode.  That's the good and bad part about "living" and working in this life... it often means we're pulling rabbits out of tattered hats at the last hour because we've been trying so hard to just keep our heads above water at home.

(but, let me tell you, in many of these situations... especially the really "messy" ones... no one except people who live this are willing to reach out and help... if you don't believe me... well, I'd have to write a book)

Anyway, so... made the phone call.  TWO SECONDS later the manager at the Columbus, TX, La Quinta isn't offering me a discount... she's offering to donate the room.  She's stepping in, stepping up, and showing the kind of *REAL* patriotism that I can't tell you how much these hearts we serve (and that I soooooo love) need.  She's not offering a bandaid for a gaping wound - she's offering a solution.

And she went on to assure me that everything would be ready and that they would be warmly (and happily) welcomed.  I can't tell you how much that means.  A lot of these folks live so thoroughly in me that I start my days worrying/praying/thinking about them and end my (sometimes 20 hour) days doing the same.  Not just this particular hero and family... but each and every hero and family... so need (and deserve) those soft spots of warmth and compassion... unfortunately most of the time they just don't get them.

So, from now on my "rule" about travel is La Quinta.  I've shared this story with a few others today (also veterans and loved ones) and heard several other stories of kindness and soft spots.  May not seem like a hotel chain is part of the answer... but they are... and I am sooooooooooooooooooo thankful.

THANK YOU La Quinta for loving "my" heroes and families... and for apparently teaching so many of your operators, managers, and staff to do the same.  THANK YOU for being such an unexpected and completely incredible example of patriotism! (realllllll patriotism)  Your tagline ("Wake Up on the Bright Side") is certainly appropriate!!

***AND, if you'd like to help us say thanks to La Quinta, here are five ways to do it***

  1. By phone: 1-800-642-4241
  2. By mail: LQ Management LLC / Guest Assistance Dept / 909 Hidden Ridge Suite 600 / Irving, TX 75038
  3. Through their website: (then click "Contact Us" on the second yellow tab)
  4. Via their Facebook page:
  5. Via Twitter: @LQ  / suggested tweet: Thanks @LQ for showing us how the #LQbrightside really works (and what a *GREAT* example of patriotism it is!) #sot

Brannan Vines
Proud wife of an OIF Veteran
Founder of - an organization dedicated to helping heroes and their loved ones survive and thrive after combat with real world info about PTSD, TBI, and Life After Combat!


  1. What a wonderful thing you both did! If only more people in the world would step up and do the right thing rather than the easy thing. Standing ovation!

    I'm part of a fairly new 501(c)3 non-profit charity for wounded warriors (Crossroads Wounded Warrior Archery Foundation) and like you, I've learned that each "No", means creating a new way to try again. :)

  2. Amazing! Thankful for God for you and the others that step up!