“We have a two fold mission for local veterans,” said Carol deGanahl of the Mesquite Republican Women. “First, in cooperation with the national Honor Flight program, we will facilitate flying veterans to Washington, D.C. to visit military memorials. Secondly, we will get as many World War II veterans as possible to enroll in the WWII Registry of Remembrances.”
The National Honor Flight Network, a non-profit organization, was created solely to pay a small amount of tribute to those who gave so much-a memorable, safe and rewarding Tour of Honor in our nation's capitol. Honor Flights transport veterans free of charge to the Washington D.C. area for three days and two nights. The organization pays for a four star hotel for the veterans, and for meals and transportation to the World War II memorial as well as the Lincoln, Vietnam, Korean and Iwo Jima memorials. The veterans will also tour Arlington National Cemetery to observe the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Veterans do not pay for any part of the trip.
The World War II memorial honors the 16 million people who served in the Armed Forces of this country and the more than 400,000 people who died. It is a memorial to the spirit, sacrifice and commitment of the American people. The electronic World War II Registry is an electronic record of those who contributed to the war effort.
“We are open to do anything we can for veterans,” said Carol Klasen, President of the Mesquite Republican Women. “This subject came up at a state meeting of Republican Women and we decided to take up the cause.”
The Honor Flight was started in 2005 and has flown more than 81,000 veterans so far to the nation's capital. Although the program has been operating since 2005, 2012 will be the first flight from Nevada and will leave this summer or fall. Flights will depart from Las Vegas or Reno and, as of last week, 91 Nevada veterans have signed up for the flight. Flights are filled on a first come, first served basis.
“We will have applications for the Honor Flight at the Mesquite Veterans Center,” said Jim Brown, Veterans Service Officer for Mesquite. “The Republican Women will also have applications or veterans can download an application from the Honor Flight website.”
Each veteran needs to have a guardian accompany them on the trip to care for the veterans needs and any medical issues, however, the guardian must pay their own way. The guardian may be someone of the veteran's choosing or someone who is volunteering through the honor flight program.
Correction made May 17: Veterans can, but are not required to, have companions. They make sure they have enough qualified volunteers on each flight to assist those that do not have companions.
Every effort is made to accommodate the personal needs and medical issues of veterans and wheel chair access and medical personnel are available on each flight. Terminally ill veterans of any war, including Iraq and Afghanistan, are invited to apply and will receive priority. Eventually, all veterans will be eligible for the honor flights but at this time World War II and terminally ill veterans receive top priority.
“We brought this program to Mesquite as part of our Caring For America committee to demonstrate our commitment and love for our country,” said deGanahl. “As the Honor Flights become more well known, we hope every veteran will get the opportunity to take advantage of it. We also would like all World War II veterans to register on the World War II memorial site. It is also free and will make of permanent record of their sacrifice.”
“I can't tell you how moving it is to see a dozen wheelchairs with Honor Flight vets at a memorial site,” said Jon Yuspa, Chairman of the Nevada Honor Flight organization. “I have seen a lot of Vets go through a life changing experience when they see how their country has honored them. All of a sudden they come alive and begin sharing stories. It is a privilege to honor these humble service men and women.”
Southwest Airlines has already donated millions of dollars worth of airfare to the program and offers greatly reduced rates to guardians who accompany the veterans. A growing network of volunteers make the trips possible.
The following information is provided to assist veterans who wish to apply:
For questions, please contact, Carol Klasen (email@example.com), Jim Brown (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Jon Yuspa (email@example.com).