OOA founder Bunch receives key to city of Fort Myers
Pine Island resident and founder of Operation Open Arms, Capt. John “Giddyup” Bunch, was recently bestowed one of the highest honors a citizen can receive in Lee County. Among the many accolades and awards presented to Bunch since the inception of OOA, most recently he received the key to the city of Fort Myers for “extraordinary service and dedication.”
“I believe this is the first time ever that a Pine Island charity, civic organization or individual has been presented the City of Fort Myers, Key to the City,” Bunch said. “Sometimes charities have a very set criteria when it comes to their mission. OOA certainly does, but key to the OOA success is doing anything to help our men and women in uniform.”
In addition to establishing a website which invites service men and women on temporary leave to take advantage of free and discounted items offered by more than 195 businesses and individuals, OOA has reached out further to our military community. Bunch, on behalf of OOA, has played an important role in providing free counseling and providing transportation for members of the military and their families and numerous other accomplishments.
On hearing of OOA’s award, Commissioner Ray Judah issued the following statement:
“I was delighted to hear that the City of Fort Myers recently awarded Operation Open Arms the Key to the City for their outstanding support of our veterans. Lee County was also privileged to honor Operation Open Arms in a recent ceremony at the County Court House for commitment to our brave men and women who truly understand the meaning of country before self.
“Operation Open Arms has helped to raise community awareness in support of our troops. businesses including hotels, restaurants, fishing guides, sports and entertainment and medical and dental providers have offered meaningful respite and support to those in our armed services who protect our freedom and liberty.
“John ‘Giddyup’ Bunch is a national treasure for establishing Operation Open Arms and his genuine interest in the welfare of our servicemen and women is truly inspirational.”
Among the activities reaching beyond the website, Bunch successfully assembled a team of professionals to provide free counseling to those suffering from PTSD. OOA also helped to orchestrated repairs to a soldier’s ransacked home in Lehigh Acres, helped to reunite a mother with her wounded son and most notably, Bunch played an important part in seeing to it that a bill was passed to protect all drivers in the state of Florida. Following the tragedy that claimed the life of Danny Beougher, a U.S. soldier on leave, Bunch approached members of the state House to draft and pass a bill that would prosecute those who allowed unlicensed drives to operate their vehicle, holding the owner responsible should the driver cause any injuries to others while driving illegally. In addition, the most recent assistance provided by OOA which made national headlines also was attributed to Bunch and his organization. On returning to the United States, wounded soldier, Corey Kent of Cape Coral was receiving treatment at a Tampa hospital. His family, however, was concerned with the level of service their son was receiving and sought a way to have their son relocated to another facility. With hard work and dedication, Bunch worked to have Kent transported to Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C.
For more information or to contribute to Operations Open Arms, visit operationopenarms.org