Military family enjoys R&R in Winter Park, courtesy of Operation Vacation |

Military family enjoys R&R in Winter Park, courtesy of Operation Vacation

This months Operation Vacation family is Jason Marshall, and his wife Kara and their three children, Kaylani, 6, Xavier, 4, and Maya, who is 4 months old.The family is stationed at Fort Carson in Colorado Springs, where they moved to from Missouri more than a year ago. They were chosen as this months recipients for Operation Vacation, a nonprofit organization that began in Glenwood Springs and gives military families or couples stationed at Fort Carson a free weekend vacation in mountain communities.Every month since July of last year, DiAnn Butler, Grand County coordinator of Operation Vacation and owner of Destinations West property management, has arranged for Operation Vacation recipients to spend a weekend in Grand County. Destination West provides lodging and an itinerary with the support of local sponsors.1. What is your background in the military?Jason: I did basic training at Fort Leonardwood, Missouri, and then got stationed (at Fort Carson). I was (also) at the National Training Center in California for a month. Ill go back in April for another month.2. Have you been overseas?Jason: I havent been overseas yet. I just re-enlisted for another six years, in Hawaii. (Grins) Were moving there in June.Kara: Yeah, Ive never been. Its going to be interesting.3. Why did you re-enlist?Jason: Thats a good question (laughs). I plan on making a career out of the military. Hopefully, Ill do my 20 years and retire. And they gave me $12,500 and told me I could go to Hawaii.Kara: (Nodding) Thats a nice bonus.4. Why did you join the army?Jason: To help take care of my family. Its kind of hard in civilian life to make sure you have insurance, the bills are paid, and all that. (The military) provides a good life for a family.5. What is it like being away from your family?Kara: The first time was hard. (But) it gets a little easier as time passes. The more he goes, its easier to know how long hell be gone. The kids are used to it too, so its not so hard for them.6. What is it like being married to a military man?Kara: Its interesting. Frustrating at times, because he cant always be home when I want him to be home. (Pauses) Ive never been asked that question before …Jason: (Answering for Kara) Its great, youre honored, youre really proud …Kara: (Mockingly hitting Jason) Shush. I am proud of you. Hes achieved quite a bit in a short period of time.7. Whens the last time you all vacationed together?Kara: Last Memorial Day we went to Phoenix to visit my mother so she could see her grandbabies.8. What do you think of Operation Vacation so far?Kara: The accommodations … (sigh) are wonderful. Its just for a couple of days (frowns). We came up to Winter Park for our anniversary back in December and stayed at the YMCA of the Rockies. It was nice, quiet. But nothing like this. (A vacation) is so desperately needed at times.Jason: Its hard enough scheduling your own vacation. But a free one, all expenses paid, is really nice. Especially on a military salary.9. What are some of your plans for the weekend?Kara: Ski lessons. Thatll be interesting.10. Have you ever skied before?Jason: I used to snowboard when I was younger, but never skiing.Kara: I was never really a big fan of snow, until I got (to Colorado). (But) now I have kids, so its time to get out in the snow.11. Were the kids excited?Kara: They love it. Theyve been talking about it all week.12. What is your favorite part about being in the military?Jason: Its definitely an honor to serve my country. You can get a great education, learn a lot of new things, and it gives you lot of opportunities to see places you probably never see before, like Hawaii. Its good camaraderie too thats my favorite thing about it, actually. Ive made a lot of really good friends.13. What do you in the military?Im a combat engineer. We deal with a lot of explosives, land mine training …14. Do you think theyll send you to Iraq?Well now that Im going to Hawaii, its a brand new unit, so they probably wont deploy me for two years. Hopefully Ill get lucky and wont have to go there at all.15. How did you two meet?Kara: (Laughs) We knew each other in high school in Kenosha, Wisconsin.Jason: We happened to run into each other (again) a few years after graduation. We started dating …16. Are the kids excited about Hawaii?Kara: They have been talking about Hawaii since we got (to Colorado) especially Kaylani. Kaylani is a Hawaiian name. It means sea and sky.

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