Upon returning from his fourth deployment in Afghanistan, Army Sergeant First Class Russell Zink thought he was spending a three-day leave with his wife and two kids in Atlanta. But unbeknownst to him, Homewood Suites by Hilton had arranged for more than 20 of his extended family members to fly in from across the country – including family he hadn’t seen in nearly a decade – for an all-expense paid family reunion.
The surprise reunion took place the afternoon of August 23, 2013 at Homewood Suites by Hilton Atlanta Midtown.
This is the first in a series of military reunions being arranged by Hilton Worldwide’s international brand of upscale, all-suite, extended-stay hotels, which it hopes will be a catalyst for a larger national military family travel program that brings in sponsors from across the travel industry.
“Knowing the heavy burdens endured by our nation’s military families, our goal is simple – to say thank you and help the more than 25 million Americans that have served unlock the benefits of family travel, reconnect and strengthen bonds with loved ones through memorable, yet affordable vacations,” said Christian Kuhn, vice president of marketing, Homewood Suites by Hilton. “We hope seeing the immeasurable joy this surprise reunion has brought the Zink family will inspire others in the industry to help Homewood Suites with a long term coordinated effort to provide more travel opportunities to military families.”
Homewood Suites was connected with the Zink Family through the National Military Family Association and Joining Forces – a national initiative launched by First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden to mobilize all sectors of society to give our service members and their families the opportunities and support they have earned.
“The experience Homewood Suites has created for the Zink Family is truly special. Since 2001, the pace of oversees deployments have been more frequent than any other time in our military’s history leaving many service members with little quality time at home in between deployments,” noted National Military Family Association executive director Joyce Wessel Raezer. “While our military families can never reclaim this lost time, the family bonding, strengthened communication and solidarity gained through family vacations –especially those that include extended family – is tremendous for families dealing with the challenges of reintegration after deployment.”
Homewood Suites’ family reunion program is part of the brand’s ongoing campaign to honor military families, which includes a special evergreen 15 percent discount* off the Best Available Rate to all active and retired military, partnerships with the Folds of Honor Foundation and Military Spouse of the Year program, as well as a dedicated Facebook Community, Homewood Suites’ “Welcome Home Headquarters,” which captures recent military family reunions from across the country. Homewood Suites’ military support campaign is also part of Hilton Worldwide’s wider commitment, Operation: Opportunity, a pledge to hire 10,000 veterans over the next five years and donate millions of Hilton HHonors points to assist job-seeking veterans.
Homewood Suites by Hilton Atlanta Midtown