Champaign County veterans who haven’t been to the Washington, D.C. veterans memorials have another option to get there for free.
Honor Flight Dayton has volunteers who drive veterans in RVs to the memorials. The RV trips take longer than the flights to Washington, D.C. – a day each to drive to and from, and a day to visit the memorials – but can be a good option for those who feel the flight could be too taxing. Taking an Honor Flight plane trip is a one-day event.
“Anybody that doesn’t want to go on Honor Flight and fly – it’s a pretty strenuous trip for older folks” – can go by RV locally, Honor Flight volunteer and RV driver Alice Lewis of Urbana said. “People spend more time getting to know other veterans. It’s just a little more relaxed than the trip on the airplane.”
Some of the Champaign County volunteers include Lewis, Sue Dill and Barb and Steve Polsley.
Honor Flight is a national nonprofit organization that takes veterans to the memorials for free. Costs for the trip are covered by donations. All costs for veterans are covered by the organization, but volunteers helping out on the trips must pay their way. Veterans pay for any souvenirs they want.
The local organization out of Dayton has been providing an alternate way of getting veterans to the memorials via RVs for a number of years, Lewis said.
The trips leave from Springfield. The group leaves on a Friday morning, gets to Washington, D.C. on Friday evening, spends Saturday touring the memorials and returns Sunday. The RV trips are once a year, Lewis said.
Honor Flight currently accepts applications from veterans from World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. Those applications are prioritized on a first-come, first-served basis, but higher priority is given to World War II veterans and those with terminal illness.
The organization provides wheelchairs, and volunteers include nurses to help with any medical issues and medications that may arise.
Lewis said each RV holds four veterans, along with the volunteers and other personnel helping with the trip. On a regular trip the group takes about 32 veterans.
Applications for veterans, guardians and volunteers are available at honorflightdayton.org. Donations are welcome. Veterans who would rather take the RV trip instead of the flight should write “RVC” on the top of the application.
For more information, visit honorflightdayton.org or honorflight.org.
Casey S. Elliott may be reached at 937-652-1331 ext. 1772 or on Twitter @UDCElliott.