When Steve Udovich started a program to help his fellow U.S. military veterans, he used nothing but his personal Rolodex and a cell phone. In a matter of days the retired Army Lieutenant Colonel launched the nonprofit Warrior Weekend that provides wounded veterans and their families a relaxing weekend at the beach or in a major city.
It’s been five years since the first Warrior Weekend trip, but the program is still going strong. “All told, we’ve touched the lives of at least 300 people and their family members,” says Udovich, of Hockessin.
Warrior Weekend has benefited from its relationship with Marriott, which offers free lodging and meal tickets at its hotels in Times Square, Philadelphia and Baltimore, as well as local businesses like Mumford and Miller Concrete in Middletown, which donated a van and trailer to transport the soldiers.
Udovich credits American Legion Post 28 in Millsboro, the third-largest Legion post in the United States, as a driving force behind Warrior Weekend. Among other tasks, post members volunteer to drive the van that transports the recovering soldiers from military medical centers in the Washington, D.C., area to their weekend destinations.
“It’s not hard to find guys who are retired to drive the van,” Udovich says. “I just give them a schedule. Those guys have done a yeoman’s job.”
Udovich is starting another military-related project documenting the war stories and experiences of America’s veterans. He plans to call it “Warrior Voices.” (warriorweekend.com) —Drew Ostroski