As 2009 comes to an end, I thought it appropriate to reflect on the year and thank those who have made this effort/enterprise a success.
Looking back, I believe this was the year (our third full year in existence) that we became “established”. We reached a milestone of 1400 volunteer pilots and aircraft owners on our volunteer roles and increased our flights by 50% over the previous year (again). We have now transported over 1800 passengers well over one million miles since beginning in Nov 06. We have become known within the military medical community as a “quietly competent” resource which executes as promised. This is only possible because of our network of willing patriot volunteers who fly the missions, and the financial supporters who keep our flight coordination center funded and able to respond pretty much 24/7.
It is amazing to me that we can cover the mission requests, sometimes with as little as a couple of hours notice and provide such first rate service to our wounded warriors and their families. What a blessing to be associated with the caliber of volunteers that the mission attracts. Volunteers like Phil Tholen from Tulsa, who accepted two missions over the holidays to get two seriously wounded soldiers (one airman and his family and one single soldier… a double amputee) home from San Antonio to Chicago and Dayton respectively, in his Hawker Premier Jet. Phil took it upon himself to call an additional passenger (one he’d flown to Philadelphia previously) to see if he needed a lift as well. Turns out he did need a lift back to San Antonio, so Phil added that to his task for the return leg… thus completing his 31st mission for the VAC since he joined us just over two years ago.
If I had the time I would write a story about every mission we complete. It would be doable if my allergies didn’t kick in every time I hear about what our volunteers do and the difference that they make in the lives of our heroes. Or….even as common…the difference that these heroes make in the lives of our volunteers!
Without the financial support of great Americans like those named on our donor recognition page, this would not work.. THANKS to all those named on our wall for your participation. Patriots all!
We were shocked by a Congressman I met while in DC visiting Walter Reed a couple of Months ago. He heard a short pitch from me and seemed impressed when I described our mission. Six weeks later I got a call from Congressman Rooney’s office (district 6 in FL) advising me that he was planning a motorcycle ride around lake Okeechobee to raise awareness and funding for the VAC. He actually did it on Dec 13. Buck Williams and Paul Donahue, two of our volunteers flew one of our former passengers in for the event…Buck flew him down from Orlando and Paul flew him over the motorcycle route in his helicopter. A great day..captured on this newsmax video. Our story is being told in unique ways and we are gaining momentum. Thank you congressman Rooney and future Congressman Allan West for your leadership.
We are looking forward to expanding our efforts to serve our military family and especially our wounded warriors in 2010. Thanks for your part in the mission. This is important stuff!