The Honor Flight Network Helps Vets Visit Our Nation’s Capital
War is often discussed in abstract terms. For a lot of people, it’s something that happens far away and to someone else. We do a lot to honor and pay respect to the brave men and women who serve our country. We dedicate holidays to them, form senatorial committees, and build grand memorials to their service and sacrifice in our nation’s capital. But often those monuments can feel like they exist more for the tourists making their way to the capital than for the men and women they were built to honor. One organization is looking to change that perception.
The Honor Flight Network is a non-profit organization that’s spent years working to organize regular trips to Washington D.C. so that veterans can visit their war memorials. It’s an incredible honor, and an even more remarkable event than you might expect. For a civilian, visiting the monuments can be an interesting and eye-opening experience. The monuments themselves do their best to capture the scope of duty and sacrifice of the soldiers who served in the wars, but for the men and women who were there, the monuments aren’t just an example of some abstract concept. For them, the names on the Vietnam War memorial don’t belong to faceless entities; they’re the names of friends and loved ones.
Organizing an Honor Flight
Vets are spread across the entire U.S. In order to fulfill their goal of helping every single veteran in American willing and able of getting on a plane or bus visit THEIR memorial, the Honor Flight Network is likewise spread all across the nation. Through partnering with multiple airports in 45 different states, they’ve been able to create 131 hubs. Each hub is run by one or two different people, and they organize regular flights from the nearest airport to Washington D.C.
For an Honor Flight to take off, interested veterans and their guardians have to sign up beforehand. When the event itself comes around, priority is often given to WWII vets, or any veteran with a terminal illness first. From there, the available flight spaces go to veterans who served in chronological order (Korean War, Vietnam War and so on).
With a waiting list 35,487 people deep, it’s a tall order for The Honor Flight Network to get to everyone. But the organization has created a number of different programs in an effort to best accomplish their goals. When those programs coincide with the creation of a special challenge coin, we’re always happy to provide our services to the hub in need.
RI Fire Chiefs Honor Flight Hub
The Rhode Island Association of Fire Chiefs Honor Flight hub operates out of Providence, and they’re regular customers of ours. When they told us they were organizing an all women honor flight on April 6, 2019, code named Honor Flight “VICTORY,” we were quite excited to help bring their new challenge coins to life.
Retired Providence Fire Chief George Farrell is the chairman of the Rhode Island Fire Chiefs' Honor Flight Hub, and he saw a need to specifically honor the women who fought and served our country in some of the biggest conflicts we’ve seen.
Often, because women were forbidden to enter combat in the U.S. Military until 2013, their contributions to wars and the importance of honoring their service as veterans have long been overlooked. By creating this Honor Flight specifically for them, Farrell and his team are doing their part to put that perception to bed.
The coin they created made use of offset printing on both the front and back face of the coin. The offset printing option is a good choice for recreating images with the highest level of detail. The image chosen for the back face of the coin is of the Women In Military Service For America Memorial, and capturing it in that level of detail is best accomplished through offset printing.
On the front face, the three seals of The General Federation of Women’s Clubs, the Honor Flight Network and the Fire Chiefs of Rhode Island are featured. Each offset printed image is also covered in an epoxy dome to protect it from scratching and exposure to the elements. At 1.75”, these coins are the average size for a lot military challenge coins, and they should be immediately memorable and recognizable to the veterans who receive them based on the coins they all likely received during their years of service.
The Flight of a Lifetime
For the veterans who get a spot on an Honor flight, the trip is often the experience of a lifetime. Not only do they get the opportunity to visit their memorials, they also get a hero’s welcome at each stop on the trip and to feel celebrated in a way that they haven’t been since returning home from their respective wars. As the heroes of these wars continue to reach advanced ages, the importance of allowing them to have these experiences becomes more and more important.
We’ve been lucky enough to create challenge coins for a number of different veteran organizations and causes over the years. Whenever we get the opportunity to show our respect and honor the men and women who’ve served this country, we’re humbled and excited by the prospect. As The Honor Flight Network continues creating interesting and innovative programs in service of their mission, we look forward to bringing their challenge coins to life.