Veterans Honor Flight of Southern Illinois is actively monitoring the current COVID-19, commonly known as “coronavirus,” situation. The Board of Directors is in constant communication with The Honor Flight Network, our national office, regarding the situation and how it may affect Honor Flight activities.
The US Centers for Disease Control has issued guidance advising elderly Americans to avoid non-essential travel due to the risk of complication from a COVID-19 infection. Given the apparent ease of distribution of the virus, travel places individuals in increased risk of exposure to those already infected.
On March 11, the Honor Flight Network issued a ban on Honor Flight hubs traveling to Washington D.C. through April 30, 2020 due to the COVID-19 threat. Honor Flight hubs are required to obey this ban.
While this ban does not directly affect Flight 7, scheduled for May 5, 2020, the Board of Directors has made the decision to postpone Flight 7 based on the possibility that the ban from HFN may be extended to directly prohibit the flight from operating.
At this time Flight 7 will operate on June 9, 2020, the date previously set for Flight 8. All veterans selected for Flight 7 will remain on the flight to travel on June 9.
As the application deadline for Flight 8 has not yet passed, no veterans have been selected for Flight 8.
Veterans Honor Flight made the announcement of our first ever two flight Spring following Flight 6 in October 2019. While it is our intention to fly twice this Spring, the COVID-19 threat has forced us to make these adjustments.
The single highest cost involved in a flight is the charter aircraft, accounting for more than 90% of our flight costs. Our partner, SunCountry Airlines, has graciously agreed to work with us to reschedule our second Spring flight. At this time a date for Flight 8 has not been set due to the possibility of the COVID-19 Honor Flight ban being extended.
The Board of Directors would like to extend a special thank you to all who have donated to Veterans Honor Flight. The Board values the donated funds with the highest regard. Up to this point, Veterans Honor Flight has achieved an unprecedented rate of 97.5% of all donated funds going directly into veteran travel. This situation will require funds to cover change costs, which are unavoidable. The Board will do everything possible to minimize this overhead cost.
The Board of Directors does not make this change lightly. We believe the mission must continue, and that our area veterans deserve this trip to Washington D.C., however the safety and health of our veterans must be our highest priority.
Any veteran or guardian who does not wish to fly on June 9 may decline the flight and remain active in our database for future travel. Any guardian who has paid the guardian fee will be refunded if they do not travel.
Flight 7 Guardians and Veterans will be contacted directly with schedule updates for pre-flight events and required training.
VHF will issue new information as soon as it is available via our web site at www.veteranshonorflight.org.