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Thomas Shepherd Inn joins inns around the world to honor Veteran’s Day

By Staff | Nov 16, 2018

SHEPHERDSTOWN — In 2008, West Virginia Innkeeper Kathleen Panek hosted the first B&Bs for Vets event in honor of Veteran’s Day at the inn she co-owns in Shinnston. The next year, a group of nine inns in the West Virginia Bed and Breakfast Association joined Gillum House Bed and Breakfast, by offering at least one room in each of their inns for a veteran to use for free on the evening before Veteran’s Day Sunday. Since then, the B&Bs for Vets program has spread around the world, with the help of the Association of Independent Hospitality Professionals.

Although many veterans and members of the hospitality industry are aware of the ten-year-old event, only one inn in the Eastern Panhandle — the Thomas Shepherd Inn — is an active participant in B&Bs for Vets.

“The deal is that any innkeeper who participates in the B&Bs for Vets program offers at least one full room, free. We offer all six of our rooms free,” said Innkeeper Lauren Duh, who has co-owned the business for five years with her husband, David Duh.

According to Lauren, the inn was part of the original group which participated in B&Bs for Vets in 2009, and when the Duhs bought the business from former owners Jim Ford and Jeanne Muir, there was no question of whether or not they wanted to continue participating in the program.

“It’s a nice program, and a nice way to say ‘thank you,'” Lauren said, mentioning her father was an Army veteran who had fought in Korea. “People in the armed forces often have to do difficult things and experience horrible things. The potential for being injured is present with them every day they are in the service– it’s a tough job. We need to validate their service and the things that they did.”

This Veteran’s Day weekend, five veterans and their spouses traveled from their homes in Maryland and Virginia to Shepherdstown, to spend the night in the Thomas Shepherd Inn. Although none of them had met before their stay at the inn, they easily bonded over their mutual experiences in the military, while they enjoyed a full sit-down breakfast together Sunday morning, freshly made and served by the Duhs.

According to Lauren, this same connection develops every year between the veterans staying at the inn.

“Despite the fact they’re all strangers to each other, they have a comeraderie that’s built in, because they’ve all served. You notice that right off,” Lauren said. “They’re all strangers that haven’t met each other before, but they’ve shared similar experiences, so they often appear to have known each other before.

“They always are so grateful and thankful that this kind of a program exists. It’s something they don’t expect,” Lauren said. “I think I get as much out of it as they do. It truly is a lot of fun.”

To learn more, visit www.BandBsforVets.org.