CMA Honors Troops, Veterans and Their Families
A Special Experience for Army Sergeant Jacobs and His Family
On November 6, 2017, the Jacobs family visited Clearwater Marine Aquarium as part of the Troop Rewards program.
Troop Rewards is a nonprofit organization that provides recovery vacations and other rewards for returning U.S. soldiers, and their families, who served in oversea deployments. These vacations help them to readjust to civilian life back home.
Eric Jacobs is a Sergeant in the 641 Regional Support Group U.S. Army and has recently returned from deployment in Kuwait and Afghanistan. Winter, one of our three resident dolphins, has provided inspiration to his family. His wife Julie, and two children Jadon and Aleena, were inspired by Winter to never give up in hard times. Just like Winter never gave up when she lost her tail, the Jacobs family never gave up while Eric was deployed, despite how hard this was for them.
The Jacobs family, from Hernando, Florida, received about eight months notice before Eric was deployed – three of which he spent training.
The family says communication, faith and trust enabled them to get through this difficult time.
Eight-year-old Aleena made a “daddy pillow” with Eric’s t-shirts and a double sided “daddy doll” (half army uniform, half civilian clothes) sprayed with Eric’s cologne to help her get through the eleven months Eric was deployed.
“Eleven months too long” according to ten-year-old Jadon.
Just like Winter never gave up when she lost her tail, the Jacobs family never gave up while Eric was deployed, despite how hard this was for them.
When asked how Winter provided inspiration, Jadon said:
“You know how Winter was trapped in a net, and then Sawyer saved her? It felt like we were trapped in a net and then [Dad] came back home and saved us.”
The families of active military go through a lot and according to Julie, the support and understanding of friends and the local community was instrumental in helping them cope while Eric was on deployment.
When Eric returned home it was like ‘two years of holidays all in one,’ says Jadon.
Honoring All Those Who Serve and Who Have Served
Clearwater Marine Aquarium honors and thanks all those who serve and who have served. We honor our military all year with free admission for active military (along with eleven guests) and significantly discounted general admission tickets for retired military.