How We Started
The call that started it all.
As an owner of a penthouse suite at the Sandpearl Resort and Spa in Clearwater, Florida, our founder, Tom Burkett, received an overseas call from an Army private serving in the Iraqi desert from a remote satellite phone. He was with the 6th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team 1st Armored Division. He had been deployed since 2008 and was currently assisting the Iraqi Security Forces on daily patrols in Baghdad. He had served all over Southern Baghdad and the Northern Provinces and his tour in Iraq had been a long and tough journey and he was ready to rejoin society with his new wife once his tour was completed in June 2009.
He was calling to ask what the cost would be for a stay at Mr. Burkett’s suite for a belated honeymoon at the hotel and when the rate quoted was too high, Mr. Burkett had a change of heart and slashed the rate to $0. Mr. Burkett replied ” How can I charge you anything when you have spent the last year risking your life for my freedom." This pay-it-forward moment would go on to inspire Mr. Burkett to offer many free stays at his resort for soldiers coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan over the next couple of years.
Then in late 2012, he decided to create a 501(c)3 called Troop Rewards to provide a way for the community, businesses and luxury hotels to come together to offer RnR Recovery to our deployed Armed Forces, and their families, to help them with their reintegration and resiliency, and to recognize their dedicated service to our country. By the end of 2018, Troop Rewards will have provided over 500 deployed Armed Forces, and their dependents, with RnR Recovery after a deployment, which means our program services will have been delivered RnR Recovery to over 2,000 military members including their dependents, and over 20,000 meals during this time and the number increases every year.