Supporting veterans through the Stars and Stripes Honor Flight

May 31, 2019By Acts of Kindness, Tradition of Giving

By Kyle Lentz, category analyst, for the Tradition of Giving blog series

HRG employees have contributed to the Stars and Stripes Honor Flight Wisconsin many times over the last seven years. The mission of this organization is to honor all veterans by flying WWII, Korean, and Vietnam War veterans, as well as terminally ill veterans from other conflicts, to Washington, D.C. to visit their respective memorials.

Veterans pay nothing for the trip; the cost is completely covered by donations. Each veteran is supplied with a volunteer for the day that assists the veteran in any way they may need, and those volunteers pay $500 for the privilege.

While on the trip, which starts at around 4:30 in the morning, the veterans are flown to Washington D.C., board deluxe motor coaches, and follow their police escorts to their scheduled stops. These stops include the World War II, Korean, and Vietnam War Memorials. They also may visit the Marine Corps Iwo Jima Memorial and Arlington National Cemetery. Additionally, they receive a short tour of Washington D.C. before heading back to the airport for their return flight.HOnor flight logo

During the flight home, the veterans receive a mail call. These are letters written by family members, friends, other veterans, and school children thanking them for their service. This is one of the more moving aspects for the veterans, some of which felt no love as they returned home from their original service.

Once they arrive back at the airport, they are treated to a water cannon salute on the runway and a hero’s welcome inside the terminal. Family, friends, other veterans, school children, marching bands, and grateful citizens all gather inside the terminal to welcome our veterans home and to give them the thanks they all have earned.

It is exciting to know we’ve personally helped many veterans make this trip. We’ve raised $5,000 toward this cause in the last seven years. That was enough to send 10 deserving veterans to Washington D.C.! Contributing to this was an auction of U.S. flags that had previously been flown over the United States Capital building, HRG’s donation, and money raised from extra “casual days.”

Last fall my department donated our portion of funds to this organization for our holiday contribution, and my teammates and I got to welcome the veterans home from their day in Washington D.C. Naturally, it was not hard to get others from our company to join our department in this endeavor as well. Over 20 staff members, friends, and family members got to participate in this moving event. Seeing the excitement and sheer gratitude of our veterans when they arrived made this celebration one most of us will not soon forget.

Supporting the Stars and Stripes Honor Flight program was truly a moving experience for many of us at HRG, and I am so grateful we also got to participate in the homecoming ceremony to witness it firsthand.