08:21 AM

Giving time: Beach getaways reconnect combat veterans, families

Airman Ryan Charrier is on a special mission to give the gift of family time to fellow combat veterans.

The spark for the idea came during his first deployment to Afghanistan in 2014 when a fellow serviceman remarked that in 28 years of military service and six deployments he and his family never had been on a true vacation together.

Charrier changed that when he returned home to the U.S. in 2015. Shortly after coming home, Charrier and his wife settled in Orange Beach, Alabama.

Working with a network of Gulf Coast resources, Charrier gave the family of his fellow veteran their first vacation, a weeklong stay in a beach house on the white sands of Gulf Shores, Alabama.

From that one act of generosity, Charrier’s Operation ReConnect was born. The 501(c)(3) nonprofit provides seven days of uninterrupted time for service members to reconnect with family members when returning home from combat. Since 2015, the nonprofit has served about 300 families.

“I am honored to serve those who are willing to make the ultimate sacrifice so we may all enjoy freedom,” he says.

And we are honored to salute Ryan Charrier as a Whataburger Hometown Hero.

Whataburger has focused on its fresh, made-to-order burgers and friendly customer service since 1950 when Harmon Dobson opened the first Whataburger as a small roadside burger stand in Corpus Christi, Texas. Today, the company is headquartered in San Antonio with more than 900 locations across its 14-state footprint and sales of more than $3 billion annually. Whataburger is a 2022 Top Workplaces winner. The brand has more than 50,000 Family Members (employees) and more than 60 million customers who like to customize their Whataburgers just like they like it. Visit whataburger.com for more information. To apply for Whataburger jobs, visit whataburger.com/careers.

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