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Operation: Opportunity Helps Reconnect Service Member with Family

Operation: Opportunity turns Army Sergeant First Class Russell Zink’s post-deployment vacation into a family reunion.

Earlier this month, Hilton Worldwide announced Operation: Opportunity, an initiative aimed at supporting our nation’s military service members, families, and veterans. This new multifaceted program aligns with Joining Forces’ goal of giving service members and their families the opportunities and support they have earned. Last month they aimed high by making a pledge to hire 10,000 veterans in the next five years – and this week, they are once again giving back to those who serve.

Sergeant First Class Russell Zink, a soldier returning from Afghanistan, expected to enjoy a bit of post-deployment R&R with his wife and two children in Atlanta, GA. He received that and more when, on August 23rd, he arrived in Atlanta to find more than twenty of his extended family waiting for him. Homewood Suites by Hilton had arranged an all-expenses paid reunion for his family members, some of whom Sergeant Zink had not seen in over ten years.

With assistance from the National Military Family Association and Joining Forces, Homewood Suites created the Zink family reunion, which is slated to be the first in a series of post-deployment, military family reunions. Christian Kuhn, vice president of marketing, Homewood Suites by Hilton, remarked on the purpose of their new military-focused initiative: “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.” He added that an additional goal of the program is to spark similar programs across the hospitality and travel industry.


Colonel Morales is the Executive Director for Joining Forces