Our “Tour of Honor” would not be possible without the help of our volunteer Guardians. A brief Guardian training session is held during the trip, but here are answers to several frequently asked questions:
What are my responsibilities as a Guardian?
Guardians play a significant role on our trips and are responsible for helping to ensure every veteran has a safe and memorable experience. Duties include: physically assisting the veterans at the airport, during the flight, at the hotel and at the memorials. You may also remind them to take medications, ensure they are properly dressed for the weather and that they stay hydrated throughout the weekend. You will also ensure they are where they need to be at the allotted times (airport, dinners, bus, etc).
Do Guardians have to pay a fee?
Yes. To ensure that all donated monies are specifically dedicated to our veterans, we ask that Guardians be responsible for paying their own travel expenses. The $800 donation (via check or PayPal) covers the cost of the round-trip flight, all meals, Fri/Sat night in the hotel, charter bus seat, lanyard, T-shirt, etc…
How many veterans will I be responsible for?
You will be assigned one veteran if he/she requires a wheelchair. You may be assigned up to two veterans if they are able to walk or are able to walk with assistance using a cane or walker. Please note that while you will be assigned a specific veteran(s), we ask all Guardians to be available to assist any veteran at any time.
Can I meet my Veteran before the trip?
Yes. Your Team Leader will ask you to call the Veteran the week before departure and introduce yourself, exchange cell phone numbers, and answer any last minute questions the veteran may have. But you are also free to arrange a meeting in advance of the trip if this is mutually agreeable.
How else can I help my Veteran?
Take photos. While the veterans are busy taking pictures of the memorials, it is wonderful to have the Guardians take photos of the veteran throughout the day. Photos that show the veterans enjoying the sites are the ones most cherished by family and friends.
Engage. You will have the opportunity and privilege of hearing firsthand accounts of the war to end all wars! Ask questions as appropriate and listen. Some of our veterans have fought in the Battle of the Bulge, survived Pearl Harbor, landed on the beaches of Normandy, stormed Iwo Jima, are Chosin Reservoir survivors, served in-country in Vietnam, and engaged in a multitude of notable and critical battles. The camaraderie of this trip will entice many to tell their stories.
Speak with the spouse in advance of the trip. Many of our veterans have not been separated from their spouses for quite some time. It’s nice to reassure beloved husbands and wives that the veteran is in very capable hands.
Talk to the Veteran’s family about attending the homecoming and how to follow along on the weekend. The homecoming is the big finale to the Honor Flight and we typically get 800-1,000 people at the airport to welcome the veterans home. You are encouraged to send the homecoming flyer to the family, to let them know about it, and to let them know how they can “watch” their loved one throughout the weekend. We usually have local TV media who are imbedded reporters doing live and recorded stories, and we do Facebook Live videos where the family can watch via Facebook.
Will Guardians receive training?
Yes. All Guardians receive a training presentation prior to the trip and will take a short quiz to confirm they understand the critical responsibilities. The results are forwarded to the Team Leader who will verify that the Guardian is prepared for this duty. At the hotel on the first night (after dinner), all guardians will receive in-person wheelchair training as well.