Who receives the most by participating in the Honor Flight program? Is it the veterans who get to visit the war memorials in Washington, D.C., at no cost to them, or is it the volunteers who help make the trip possible?
Joe Garland, a Jackson Energy Cooperative engineer and U.S. Army veteran, is an Honor Flight guardian.
“It is quite an honor to escort a veteran back to see the memorials honoring their branch of the military,” he says. “We try to make sure it is a well-enjoyed trip. We want the veterans to get the respect they deserve but might not have gotten when they came home.”
At work, Garland gives back to the community as well. He surveys for new electric lines so homes, businesses and roads can be built.
Kentucky’s Touchstone Energy Cooperatives has sponsored the all-expenses-paid flight for veterans for the past nine years. To learn more about the program, go to HonorFlightKY.org.
It’s often the little things that make a difference, says Katie Risley, a volunteer with CrossRoads to Hope in Owensboro and a senior accountant for Big Rivers Electric.
Katie often volunteers for the nonprofit’s emergency overnight shelter for women and children. The shelter provides a hot meal in the evening and a place for the women and their children to shower and sleep. Volunteers help connect the women with services to obtain housing, employment, government assistance, clothing, medical insurance and a host of other needs.
“I will take a DVD from home and watch it with the women,” Katie says. “Often that is the best 90 minutes of their week. I take bags of socks I no longer need, and the ladies love picking out a pair. The little things that I take for granted, they really appreciate.”
But Katie says the benefits run both ways.
“I love being there,” she says. “I get a lot out of it.”