On this Veteran’s Day, we are reminded of the sacrifices made by our military members and their families. These sacrifices come in many ways: being away from family, coming home with extensive mental and/or physical injuries, and even giving their lives to protect us. There are many wonderful organizations that help to honor our veterans, but one that I have had the pleasure to be a part of is the Honor Flight Tri-State.
Honor Flight is a non-profit organization created to honor American veterans with hubs all over the United States. This idea was first conceived in Springfield, Ohio, by a physician’s assistant in 2004 after the completion of the WWII memorial. He had many WWII veterans as patients that were financially or physically unable to see their memorial. This gentleman was also a private pilot, so it started when he offered one patient the opportunity for a free flight and accompaniment to the WWII memorial. Through many sponsors, Honor Flight Tri-State is able to provide these trips free of charge for veterans. The organization started by taking WWII and Korean veterans, but now they are taking applications from any veteran over the age of 65.
I have had the privilege to escort two World War II veterans and one Korean War veteran to see their memorials. So many emotions are experienced during these trips. These emotions vary from the laughter that comes from making fun of each other and calling each other names for being from other branches to the joy they receive when others stop to thank them for their service and shake their hands to the sadness of remembering those whose lives were lost. One of my most memorable moments was seeing a group of high schoolers that were so excited to shake the hands of such heroes and have their pictures taken with them. Although these trips result in very long days, the veterans are so excited to be a part of them. In fact, by the end of the day, most of the guardians are exhausted while the veterans are still going strong.
Cincinnati Children’s has an employee group dedicated to help support military troops, families, and the community. Cincinnati Children’s Veterans and Military Family Advocacy Network (VAMFAN) also works to advocate for children of military families and the unique challenges they face. The VAMFAN group has a Facebook page that is updated with ongoing needs for military members and veterans. Sometimes those needs are met by supply drives sent overseas while other times it’s cemetery clean up to help honor those who have served and passed. VAMFAN will be honoring veterans today with a celebration from 2-4 pm in Location S, Room S1.203. All are invited to help honor those who have served.
If you feel a calling to donate either by volunteering time or money, please follow these links for Honor Flight Tri-State or VAMFAN. Reach out to a veteran this Veteran’s Day, give a genuine smile, say thank you and shake a hand. Remember what has been sacrificed and continues to be sacrificed everyday for our freedoms.
Contributed by Jennifer Harris (RT-Nuc Med) and edited by Bessie Ganim (RT-NucMed).