Desert Valley Times and St. George Spectrum

2009/11/16

Two wounded veterans and their families will enjoy a dream Christmas at Park City, Utah, compliments of the Eureka Hotel Casino and the Christmas Can Cure organization.

Eureka owner Greg Lee announced the names of the veterans at a Veterans Day reception at the casino on Wednesday. It’s part of the Eureka’s support of the Wounded Warrior Project, which helps wounded veterans and their families move ahead in their lives. The Eureka has awarded vacation trips to wounded veterans and their families, as well as providing scholarships for programs that help wounded veterans build post-military careers.

Wounded warrior families are splintered by war and its wounds, said Lee, and returning to civilian life or “normalcy” can be a huge challenge. Holidays are stressful and difficult – the pressure to provide is physical and emotional, he said.

This is why two families have been selected to receive an idyllic Christmas weekend retreat in Park City.

“We wanted them to be able to have the Christmas of their dreams,” said Lee.

The two families selected are those of Staff Sgt. Joseph Perez of Logandale, and Sgt. Bradley Chidester of Bountiful, Utah.

Perez enlisted in the Marines in 1988 and served until 1996. In 1999, he enlisted in the Army as a sergeant in the Military Police. While serving in Iraq in 2003, he suffered serious head, leg and spinal injuries resulting from a mortar attack and prison riot at Abu Ghraib. His has been a long road to recovery, assisted by his wife, Aileena, and their three daughters.

Perez has recovered to the point where he could participate this week in the Wounded Warrior Project’s Soldier Ride in Las Vegas, biking through Summerlin with veterans from across the country.

“Joe says he, his wife and daughters love Christmas and they are giddy about the trip, and he is looking forward to seeing his daughters spoiled for a few days,” said Lee.

Originally a Calvary Scout, Chidester was injured in Mosul, Iraq, in 2005 when a vehicle was detonated near his unit. He was hit by shrapnel and knocked unconscious. When he came to, he was in the middle of a firefight and returned fire without the use of his left arm. He was shot in the leg.


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