Honoring Our Xscapers Veterans

flags representing each branch of the U.S. military
Every November 11th, our Nation recognizes the freedoms our Military Veterans bestowed upon us through selfless service and sacrifice; including our freedom to travel. As Escapees and Xscapers, it is also our mission to recognize and show appreciation to those who served our Country.

Our Escapees membership numbers include thousands of Military Veterans who gave much of their time to serve in our Country’s Armed Forces. Even though they no longer serve in the military, they’ve remained as nomads but now, in as full-time RVers. We’ll also show how Escapees fits within their RV lifestyles and how Military Veterans can benefit from their Escapees membership.

But first, what is a Military Veteran?

What Is A Military Veteran?

According to Title 38 of the Code of Federal Regulations,  a Veteran is defined as as a person who served in the active military, naval, or air service and who was discharged or released under conditions other than dishonorable.” This definition explains that any individual that completed a service in the Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marine Corps and Navy.

Meaning of Veterans Day

Every November 11th, this federally-mandated holiday purpose is to honor, recognize and thank all those who have served (past tense) in war or peacetime.

While Memorial Day (in May) is intended to honor our Fallen Servicemembers, Veterans Day was enacted to honor our living Military Veterans. But for all intents and purposes, here’s the official history and reasoning for the holiday according to the Veterans Administration:

“The first celebration using the term Veterans Day occurred in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1947. Raymond Weeks, a World War II veteran, organized “National Veterans Day,” which included a parade and other festivities, to honor all veterans. The event was held on November 11, then designated Armistice Day. Later, U.S. Representative Edward Rees of Kansas proposed a bill that would change Armistice Day to Veterans Day. In 1954, Congress passed the bill that President Eisenhower signed proclaiming November 11 as Veterans Day. Raymond Weeks received the Presidential Citizens Medal from President Reagan in November 1982. Weeks’ local parade and ceremonies are now an annual event celebrated nationwide.”

So now, let’s meet a few of our Escapee’s Military Veterans.

Paul McPhillips- United States Army

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Paul served in the U.S. Army as an Airborne Infantryman for nine years during the Cold War in the 1980’s. His favorite duty station was the 2nd Ranger Battalion which became the 1/509 Airborne Battalion Combat Team in Italy. He then worked for Fortune 500 companies in Silicon Valley since leaving the military.

Both he and his life partner, Nancy, knew they would be doing something different for retirement. So, they purchased an old Mini Winnie (Winnebago travel trailer) to test the waters. Now five RVs (or is it 6 or 7?), 45 states and five years later, they’re fondness of the Escapees and Xscapers community continues to grow. They embrace the club’s community vision; mentoring and sharing stories of RV lifestyle and RV travel.

While they don’t own a home anymore, they do keep an RV lot at the Escapees North Ranch which reigns as their home base. Paul and Nancy travel full-time in their Foretravel motorhome. And when they’re not on the road exploring, they are either improving and modifying their RV or customizing a new(er) build. They’re most recent was overhauling a van. However, word has it, they are onto another exciting build.

Their future plans are to head up to Alaska and Canada with their new overlanding recreational vehicle in 2021.

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Stephanie Viczi- United States Air Force

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Stephanie proudly served in the Air Force from 1993-2013 in Security and Intelligence. Her favorite tour of duty was at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colorado which most likely led her to loving the mountainous west coast. Retiring as a Master Sergeant, it was a given that she and her husband, Michael would set out on the open road to explore the Country.

After binge-watching several YouTube channels and becoming obsessed with the RV lifestyle, they started by taking weekend camping trips. It didn’t take long for full-time RV life to take them by storm. Throwing caution to the wind, they sold it all and bought a Heartland Road Warrior fifth wheel toy hauler.

They love experiencing the unconventional full-time RV lifestyle and sharing their experiences. They joined Escapees membership to set up their domicile in South Dakota. Stephanie and Mike also joined Xscapers to meet other like-minded adventurous RVers.

Amongst their favorite RV lifestyle experiences are the Xscapers’ convergences. Stephanie said the Xscapers convergences actually saved them from throwing in the towel of RV lifestyle. “It’s because of the community”, Stephanie says. “We love meeting like-minded RVers! And we especially love hanging with fellow Military Veterans!”

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Chris & Shannon Gunter- United States Coast Guard

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The Gunters were a dual-military couple serving in the United States Coast Guard. Chris entered the Coast Guard in 1990; serving until mid to late 1993. He trained to  be a small boat Coxswain of 19′, 25′, and 41′ Search and Rescue boats. Shortly after basic training, he also trained to become a Maritime Law Enforcement Boarding Officer in Petaluma, California.

Shannon served from 1991-1993 as a small boat engineer and Maritime Law Enforcement Boarding Team Member. Both, Chris and Shannon served during Desert Storm at Coast Guard Station Islamorada in Florida. (We apologize for not having a photo of Shannon in uniform).

After they fulfilled their enlistments honorably, they both left the service to start their family while Chris went to start a new career with the Federal Bureau of Prisons as the Movement Coordinator at the Maximum Security Prison in Florence, CO and later as a Federal Air Marshal in 2002. In 2018, he retired and they set out for the open road.

On their off-time, they loved to go camping and enjoy the outdoors with their family. Upon meeting a couple who was full-time RVing their inception of full-time RV life was born. Once Chris retired from his job, they bought a 2015 Jayco Seneca Super C motorhome and hit the road running!

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Now married for 27 years, they love the full-time RV life because it gives them opportunity to meet amazing people from all over the world while enjoying the outdoors. In 2018, they joined Escapees and Xscapers to be with like-minded RV travelers.

 

What are their plans for the future? “We plan to continue RVing until we can no longer do it”, Chris says. Until then, they bounce back to their home base in Colorado to visit their daughter’s family often.

Nick Marshall- United States Marine Corps

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Nick doesn’t talk about it much but has every right to be proud of his long career as a Officer helicopter pilot in the U.S Marine Corps. He’s served in the Global War on Terrorism and Operation Iraqi Freedom at Headquarters Central Command in Tampa. Also deploying three times to Qatar as Division Chief and then Chief. His biggest accomplishment was serving with the Presidential Helicopter Squadron as a command pilot during the Clinton and Bush (Senior) Administrations. His squadron was responsible for the safe transport and worldwide support of the President.

Once retiring from the Armed Forces, the RVing bug bit him and his long-time wife, Julie. They have been RVing part-time since 2013. Then, they decided to travel full-time in their motorhome navigating their way through the United States and Canada.

One of their most memorable highlights has been to meet up with his former coworkers in St John’s, Canada where he flew the S92 helicopter transporting oil workers to work over 200 miles offshore.

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Nick and Julie became Escapees and Xscapers members and attended several Xscapers’ events including the New Years’ Eve Bash, Annual Bash and Moab Convergence.

Due to some challenges, they decided to purchase a home base June 2020 in Florida but will continue their RV travel but on a part-time schedule. They recently downsized from their big Newmar Class A motorhome to a new 25′ Airstream. Nick and Julie’s travel plans are to close their year with a trip to the Shenandoah Valley and return to the west to explore more next year.

Justin Ford- United States Navy, Seabees

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Justin is proud of his twenty-year Navy Seabee career; serving from 1990 to 2010. He served as a Construction Mechanic; working on small engines to heavy construction equipment. Justin has deployed in support of several humanitarian disaster relief missions as well as special warfare in Kosovo and Special Warfare.

Since the military had them PCS (Permanent Change of Station) often, their sense of adventure still had them yearning to see and experience more. But homeownership, home projects and chores kept them from enjoying true retirement. So to escape the rocking chair, Justin and his wife, Stacy bought their 2016 Grand Design Solitude Fifth Wheel to explore America! They have been on the road as full-time RVers for over seven years.

They joined Escapees and Xscapers in 2018. Justin and Stacy enjoy the camaraderie and friendships from convergences and meetups. The combined experience from the other membership help make RV lifestyle easier. 

Justin’s incredible mechanical abilities have led him to help other RVers understand solar and energy management to build their own systems. At Xscapers’ convergences, Justin oftentimes can be seen showing RV owners how they can improve their RV’s electrical system so they can boondock longer.

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Now that Justin and Stacy are grandparents, they spend much of their time with family in Pennsylvania during the warmer months.

We hope you enjoyed reading about these six exceptional Military Veterans who share the RV lifestyle amongst us. So now, let’s check out how Escapees helps those who have served our Country.

How Escapees Membership Helps Military Veterans

To show appreciation to our honorably-discharged Military Veterans and their service to our country, Escapees offers special discounts towards memberships.

Military Veterans are granted a 5% discount on their Escapees annual memberships as well, as the Escapees magazine, Escapees Mail Forwarding, Escapees Store and Escapees Escapade Registration. You need to provide proof of your honorable Veteran status. You can get more information on these discounts by checking out the Escapees Military Discounts page.

Once you join or even if you’re already a member, you may be interested in joining the Military, Veterans, & Gold Star Families BOF group (Birds of Feather). The purpose of this BOF is to provide military, veterans, and Gold Star families the opportunity to continue the camaraderie; mixing it with camping/RVing with others that have or still are serving, in the United States and Canadian Armed Forces.

The Military, Veterans, and Gold Star Families BOF also holds their monthly virtual campfire on the second Thursday of the month.  And, they also have a blog https://skpbofmilvetsgoldstar.blogspot.com and their own page on RVillage. For more information, you can email EscapeesBOFMilitaryandVeterans@gmail.com.

So, this Veteran’s Day, fly your American flag high and proud! Extend them a hearty thanks to our Military Veterans so we ALL can enjoy the RV lifestyle and freedom to travel!

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Author

Lisa Brown SKP#128499

There are no rocking chairs for Dan and Lisa Brown of Always On Liberty. A few years after Dan retired from the U.S. Coast Guard, they sold their five-bedroom Kentucky home with everything in it and set out for the open road to see America with their new fifth wheel. They and their two Maine Coon cats have been full-time, adventurous RV nomads since 2014 with no plans of stopping. Now, two RVs later, they are still searching for destinations unknown and forging their own paths. Their passions are motorcycle riding, hiking, kayaking and learning our country’s history. They also enjoy sharing their on-the-road experiences, RV tips and tricks, product reviews and how-to guides of RV life through their blog and writing.

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