What started as a planned family vacation to Walt Disney World for Wanda Jimenez- Barkdoll and her family ended up very differently than expected. During a recent trip to the sunny state of Florida, the Barkdoll family was selected as "Veterans of the Day" and recognized for their service during a flag retreat.
Tickets for the trip were purchased through the Fort Detrick Directorate of Family, Morale, Welfare and Recreation. Before the fun began, the Barkdoll family had to check in to receive their wristbands. Part of this process is showing a military identification. While doing this, the Armed Forces Representative in the booth began asking them about their services and careers in the military.
“We though he was trying to be nice. Then he explained his role and asked if we would like to be the 'Veterans of the Day,'” said Barkdoll.
Gary Barkdoll retired as command sergeant major in 2008 after 35 years of active-duty and reserve military service with the Army. Wanda Jimenez-Barkdoll retired as a major in 2007 after 20 years of reserve military service with the Army. She is now part of the U.S. Army Garrison Equal Employment Office at Fort Detrick.
The 'Veteran for the Day' program at Walt Disney World allows a designated veteran to be recognized at the end of the day and be a part of the retrieval of the United States Flag. In this case, the day ended as the park formally introduced the Barkdoll family to the crowd, announced their years of service and gave them certificates of appreciations.
“We did not know Walt Disney World does this. It was a complete surprise and an honor to represent our Nation as veterans and retirees,” said Barkdoll.