Letter: A veteran’s open letter of gratitude to Vail Resorts
As a military retiree, I want to take the opportunity to say “thank you” to Vail Resorts for all they are doing for our military community. While the past week’s skiing-related social and traditional media news cycle was spent scrutinizing Vail’s lift line anomaly following the last massive storm, I feel compelled to provide a counterpoint of gratitude to end the week.
Most do not know that Vail Resorts honors our active duty and retired military veterans by offering an Epic Military Pass that can only be described as an epic deal. Many ski resorts offer deep discounts for which veterans, including myself, are very grateful. Vail Resorts, however, has an unparalleled commitment to making skiing accessible for our military veterans. The Epic Military Pass is an annual unlimited/no blackout access pass to Vail, Breckenridge, Beaver Creek, Keystone, and Crested Butte (and many others outside Colorado) for veterans and their dependents for less than the cost of a single-day pass. Most civilian friends of mine have never heard of, and are astounded by this deal. They haven’t heard about it because Vail Resorts just quietly offers the deal without fanfare or bravado.
The Epic Military Pass has made it possible for my family and many other military families to connect and spend time together on the mountain, providing an experience that few other activities or places can match. Whether I am ripping down the bowls with my kids or enjoying some turns on the groomers with my wife, Vail Resorts has been responsible for countless lasting memories for my family. During our 16 days on the mountain so far this year, our longest line has been about 15 minutes … .and that was for Imperial Express so that we could cut fresh tracks on Whale’s Tail — totally worth it! We thoroughly enjoyed 9 inches of powder at Vail just last Thursday without a single lift line.
As a private citizen now, I also want to also commend Vail on its 10th Mountain Legacy Parade series and the Vail Legacy Weekend. The parades and weekend honor the warriors of the 10th Mountain Division who not only distinguished themselves in battle but later went on to contribute greatly in starting the United States skiing industry. Beyond saluting legends of the past, however, I believe the parades also serve to provide a connection between our citizenry and our military members today. We are still a nation at war, yet only about .4 percent of our population currently serves and only about 7 percent of all living Americans have ever served in our armed forces. The nature of our all-volunteer military force today puts our national security burden on very few shoulders, while most of us are free to go on with our lives often oblivious to their sacrifices. I believe these parades contribute in some small way to bridging the gap between our populace and military and hope that they encourage us all to pause, think about, and say a prayer for those currently standing the watch around the globe.
We’ve all had some bad days (although I would argue it’s really tough to have a bad day on the back end of 38 inches of new snow in 48 hours). I truly sympathize with those of you that endured the 1.5-hour line on Chair 5, yet I would also kindly offer just a small measure of perspective that there are tens of thousands of our military deployed right now that would have traded places with you in a heartbeat for just one run down Sun Up Bowl’s powder last Saturday. Vail Mountain — chin up! There are many of us, especially veterans, that appreciate and are grateful for what you and all the Vail Resorts do to provide lasting memories and a world-class skiing experience.
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Scott Troyer, Commander, U.S. Navy (ret.)