One of many rest stops on the way

I recently found myself traversing the American countryside once again, cruising 1,140 miles from Tampa, Florida to Gary, Indiana right up to Lake Michigan (pictured above). Travelling in this country has never ceased to amaze me — the seamless movement from state to state, the richness and variety of cultures in the peculiar corners of each and every state, and just how big the place is.

If you want to save some money, a little planning before a road trip can go a long way. Find a good deal at a hotel here, pack a few meals and drinks there — even if you decide to stay flexible and deviate from the plan, it’ll still save time and money.

That means finding places to stay. And with the veteran community, I have been finding that there is no shortage of welcoming homes across the United States to give us a place to stay and a home cooked meal to eat.

Just Wednesday night, we stopped and were welcomed to someone’s house that I had never met, never had any personal connection to, but my partner in crime in this road trip had known him and his family for a bit, and of course her word meant both she and I were welcome in their family’s home. We had some delicious ham, potatoes and green beans — a stark contrast to the fast food one gets sick of very quickly while on the road.

They just so happened to have my favorite whiskey; we spent the night laughing and talking about life in the military, Ranger School, transitioning into the civilian world and a whole lot more.

I have always loved how the veteran community has had my back. Veterans have come out of the woodwork to help me move, lent me vehicles and equipment, and used their various expertise and influence to help me in whatever ways they could.

This most recent episode was appreciated, but not surprising. It was just another example of veterans who have each other’s backs. But that doesn’t just happen on its own, it takes people who are willing to go out of their way to help in a practical sense that is often inconvenient and uncomfortable. Too often you find people with offers to help their “brothers,” and then when you accept, they say “Oooooh, man actually I’m busy,” or some other excuse. I don’t mind someone not helping me out, but why offer in the first place? A lot of people want the glory of having offered without the burden of actually having to do anything.

Still, more often than not, when I’m in a time of need I’ll find our country’s former service members will break their backs to help me out. I count myself lucky to be a part of the veteran family, and I hope to give back wherever and whenever I can.