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Review for Freedom Alliance, Dulles, VA, USA

Rating: 5 stars  

Before and throughout the event, the communication was excellent. The expectations were clear and the execution was professionally orchestrated. I feel fortunate to have been selected to attend, and at a point in the genesis of the program where the workbook and the structure of the talks (sessions) we had as a group, were refined and enhanced by Pepper's experience in implementing this program several times before our group was to attend.

It was evident that a lot of research and thought went into the structuring of this program and the time we spent together down there. I'm not just speaking for myself here. Over the week I've had many conversations with the other Veterans who attended, and all echoed the same sentiments.

We all very much appreciated the format these conversations took and the safe environment that was created, perfectly designed to make us feel comfortable with sharing things that we had been holding close to the chest, many of us having done so for a very long time. A bond was formed, a camaraderie between folks who are able to acknowledge the pieces of themselves they see in others, in their stories and experiences. Amongst this small group of Veterans who served in combat, who saw action and experienced horrific things in the name of God and Country, that camaraderie is hard fought for. It is something that is rarely valued until it is lost. And all of us there this week had lost it at some point in our lives before coming here. The connection to others that could help us share the burden, the weight of our experience. We may not have realized it until we got there, but we all recognized it for what it was, and we understood how much we truly had missed having that type of deep, meaningful connection to another human being who had experienced what we had.

One of our group even expressed that the things he shared with us he had not shared with his wife of 25 years. Think about the close, personal connection that you have with your own spouse. What it must mean to hide away feelings and experiences that you didn't feel comfortable sharing with them. The weight of that burden that is carried alone.

The conversations and the sessions aside, I also wanted to take a moment to let you know how impressed I was with Pepper. To get a group of crusty vets like us to dig as deep as we did is no small feat. It is clear to me that his passion for this mission and for Freedom Alliance is something to be valued and commended, and now I have personally benefited from his compassion, empathy, and his ability to connect and build relationships with people. It seemed everywhere we went in the Los Suenos community, Pepper and the Freedom Alliance mission were well known. Pepper goes out of his way to connect with everyone he meets on a meaningful level, and I noted that he knew everyone's name. It takes a special person to endear themselves in the hearts of so many. He truly is the unofficial "Mayor of Los Suenos". Security guards, our driver to and from the airport, hosts and servers at restaurants, owners of businesses, even the chef came out from the kitchen to greet us and check in on us. The owners and crew of each of the boats in the harbor that we walked past enroute to and from the boats we were assigned, they all welcomed us graciously.

To Pepper Ailor, our host, thank you for a job well done. Please know your efforts have had quite an impact on me, the other veterans in our group, and the Los Suenos community.

To all of the Patriots behind the scenes, from the condo owners to the boat owners and crew, the donors and all those who support Freedom Alliance and their mission to offer programs such as this to Veterans such as myself, THANK YOU! You will never know the true impact that this experience has had on me, and I am forever grateful for the opportunity.

Your brother in arms,

Justin Sabo
U.S. Army Infantry
(1997 - 2006)

Role:  Client Served

Review for Freedom Alliance, Dulles, VA, USA

Rating: 5 stars  

I attended the War Heroes On Water (WHOW) 2021 event. It was amazing. It was well organized and communication regarding the event was superb. I was surprised at how quickly and casually of group of strangers with a unique common experience could bond so closely. It was a refreshing reminder of the strength and resiliency of the human condition.

What I learned is this: It's easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of life, allowing your perspective to become skewed and to forget what really matters; making new friendships and renewing old ones. Finding common ground across the miles with people you have never before met but who have similar experiences, triumphs and failures alike, with no fear of judgement or pity, but just compassion and understanding.

This trip is EXACTLY what my soul needed to hit that "reset" button.

Justin Sabo
Staff Sergeant
U.S. Army

Role:  Client Served