2005 Today Show
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2009 Today Show (Award Winning PTSD)
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2016 Today Show (US Army Chief of Staff awards Highest Medal)
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2011 Throwback – ‘Giddyup’ behind a hero’s pitch. The News-Press’s Sam Cook writes local soldier’s first pitch for Red Sox-Braves game.

Captain John “GiddyUp” Bunch awarded the US Navy Distinguished Public Service Medal
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OOA Founder awarded US Navy Highest Medal
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Army again honors Operation Open Arms founder
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*Wine on the Waterfront Fundraiser – November 11, 2017*
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‘Open Arms’ offers free vacations for redeployed Soldiers
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SW Florida’s Operation Open Arms earns Army salute
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Army chief of staff recognizes volunteers for service to Soldiers, veterans
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US Army & Joint Chief of Staff honors OOA
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US Army to Award OOA Outstanding Civilian Service Medal
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Chief of Staff of the Army will host Twilight Tattoo
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*Important message from Our Founder*

Effective May 1, 2013 Operation Open Arms will dedicate itself to the care & treatment of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder for Active Duty US Servicemen & Servicewomen. Weather permitting, counseling will take place aboard a USCG approved vessel with a Licensed Merchant Marine Captain & Licensed Therapist.

On April 19, 2019 Operation Open Arms celebrated 14 years of awarding  free one week R&R’s to 3,992 US Servicemen and Servicewomen. In this time OOA also sponsored 103 N/C full service weddings. Our criteria for benefits has always been and will remain “Active Duty returning from combat and/or foreign duty stations.”

Capt John “GiddyUp” Bunch

Operation Open Arms is a nationally acclaimed military outreach program founded in 2005 (as featured on the NBC Today Show) and is the only 501(c)3 public Florida charity honored by two sitting United States Presidents. Designated a public charity by the IRS in 2008, Operation Open Arms has no payroll or salaries. OOA is void of political or religious affiliation.

Operation Open Arms Wedding, Fort Myers Beach FLSince 2005, beautiful Southwest Florida has become our nation’s most popular leave destination for US Troops for good reason. Those serving in combat or foreign duty stations can visit Southwest Florida and enjoy R&R benefits free of charge thanks to the Operation Open Arms’ network of local sponsors of the charity. Operation Open Arms of Southwest Florida has provided charitable resources for over 1,900 US Troops and their families since its founding.

Our organization has a very simple mission statement:

To provide US Service men and women visiting Southwest Florida every conceivable benefit during their two week combat leave or return from a foreign duty station.

Creating Memories for Soldiers On LeaveOperation Open Arms started with one fishing captain providing a free fishing charter to one service man whose only wish was to go fishing while on combat leave. It has expanded to a network of over 150 local businesses, associations, and individuals that support our troops with more than words—they enthusiastically contribute time, energy, expertise, equipment, facilities, and much more.

Our charity depends on tax deductible contributions and donations to provide extraordinary benefits such as free limo service, lodging, restaurants, fishing charters, golf, tennis, bowling, kayaking, biking, emergency dental care, and a cutting edge approach for the treatment of PTSD (Today Show 2009).

To Our Troops

Operation Open Arms is a network of business owners and individuals in Florida who wish to relieve the total cost of your combat leave vacation. The Operation Open Arms family of local sponsors will seek to provide every possible act of tangible kindness in recognition of your service, multiple deployments, and hardships cause by prolonged separation to military families. Operation Open Arms has never denied benefits to any eligible US Service man or woman.

How to receive benefits

Please read the eligibility information to verify you are able to receive benefits and get other vital participant information about our charity. Operation Open Arms is self administrating. Making a reservation or appointment within the OOA network is no different than making arrangements within the military.

*Operation Open Arms and our sponsors do not provide alcohol or tobacco products to US Troops.