Five Wounded Warriors Soak Up the Sun in Palm Beach County

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From the South Florida Sun Sentinel

Local Firefighters Organized the Vets’ Getaway

Five recovering war veterans are getting a dose of sun and surf in Palm Beach County — just what the doctors ordered at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C.

The veterans, along with a caregiver, arrived at Palm Beach International Airport on Thursday for a few days of rest and relaxation away from the the confines of the hospital, according to Joe Bartlett, a Palm Beach County Fire Rescue retiree.

U.S. Marines Staff Sgt. Glen Silva, 39, is among them.

He returned from northern Afghanistan in October without his lower left leg and has undergone nearly 40 surgeries for several other wounds, but he still managed to win a trophy on his first ocean fishing trip on Friday.

“I’m used to catching rainbow trout,” Silva said after the group caught a sailfish and two tuna.

“I think the fish just knew there was a Marine out on the water and they were like, ‘Hey look, if we don’t get on his line, this guy’s going to jump in,'” Silva chuckled.

The four men and two women are guests of the West Palm Beach Waterfront Warriors, a group of local firefighters providing accommodations, entertainment and anything else the wounded warriors desire before they fly back to Washington on Sunday.

“These guys have done a phenomenal job from the very beginning,” Silva said. “Once we get back to Walter Reed, I’ll be grabbing other Marines and telling them, ‘Look, you’re going on this trip next time.'”

The vets also are getting the VIP treatment at SunFest this weekend.

Hotel rooms, meals and activities were donated to the local Waterfront Warriors.

“It’s weird to be treated so freakin’ good as we’ve been treated,” Silva said. “Definitely unexpected.”

The gesture was inspired by the Long Beach Waterfront Warriors, a group of New York firefighters who organize getaways for wounded veterans.

The Waterfront Warriors organizations also help to connect veterans with services, institutions or information they may need, officials said.

“I’m doing really well,” Silva said. “Doing really well.”

Bartlett said 100 percent of donations received go to the veterans.

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(West Pam Beach Waterfront Warriors was supported by a grant from the Foundation.)