LAWTON, Okla. (TNN) -Jack Daniel’s Operation Ride Home has helped many active duty junior-enlisted service members and their families travel from their duty station back home for the holidays.
“We don’t always have the leisure to go home and spend time with our family as much as we want to, but having this opportunity is great," said Private Rico Joel.
Jack Daniel’s Operation Ride Home has helped cover a majority of travel costs for military families to go home during the holidays.
Private Rico Joel is one of those soldiers, flying back home to Hawaii Sunday. He plans on doing a lot during his time there.
“I would say definitely going to the beach, spending time with friends, eating the good food back home. Also the holidays are coming up so looking forward to spending time with my siblings and making sure that they’re all good," said Private Joel.
He has not been home in about seven months and says this trip is needed.
“It’s kind of making me feel like I’m going to come back more prepared with a good mindset, with a good restoration kind of feeling, and time to start up strong again and get back into work," said Private Joel.
As for Specialist Dequante Andrews and his family, they are already back from their trip.
They went home to North Carolina for Thanksgiving. This is the third time they have used Operation Ride Home.
“I see it as a blessing to know what we do for the country, we still have programs out there that’s willing to help military families financially and any way they can to just help us get home to see our families, because sometimes some people don’t get to go home for years to see family so this is a blessing," said SPC. Andrews.
They spent two weeks in North Carolina and prior to this trip they traveled there last Christmas.
Candace Andrews said she enjoyed being around nieces and nephews.
“Some of them were just born and I wasn’t there to see them, so finally being able to see them in person and not on Face time was really really nice," said Candace Andrews.
The Armed Services YMCA partners with Jack Daniel’s to make Operation Ride Home possible. They received $14,000 this year which is the largest amount they have ever received.
“This is an annual campaign that Jack Daniels works hard on and the amount that they give back nationally to Armed Services YMCA so that we can send our families home, it’s really incredible. We’re a very small piece of the puzzle, but it means a lot to be apart of," said Sheena Towsey with The Armed Services YMCA.
The $14,000 the Armed Services YMCA received covered costs for around 60 individuals and 20 families from Fort Sill, Altus Air Force Base, and Tinker Air Force Base to go home for the holidays.