PORT WASHINGTON — A decision has not yet been made on whether Honor Flights will resume before the end of the year, but whenever they do, vaccinations will be required for those who participate.
In a statement posted on the Facebook page for the local hub, Stars and Stripes Honor Flight, the national network announced that flights will be postponed until at least Aug 15.
The Honor Flight Network, comprised of independent hubs across the country, transports veterans to Washington, D.C. to visit war memorials, Arlington National Cemetery and other sites of importance, at no cost to the veterans.
Stars and Stripes Honor Flight President Karyn Roelke said they are waiting for guidance from the national network on when they can resume flights. Even if the local hub takes all of the safety precautions possible, it would have no impact if Washington, D.C. is not allowing group gatherings, she said.
The Honor Flight program was started with World War II veterans in mind, but has since expanded to include veterans of the Korean and Vietnam wars and terminally ill veterans.
The Stars and Stripes hub, the first in Wisconsin, was started in 2008 by Joe Dean in Ozaukee County. Since that time, the group has organized 56 flights for 7,606 veterans, with the help of more than 200 volunteers.
The last Stars and Stripes Honor Flight was Nov. 9, 2019.
According to the April 23 announcement, once it has been determined that it is safe to resume flights, proof of full vaccination will be required for veterans and their guardians who take an Honor Flight in 2021. There will be no exception to the rule in 2021.
No Stars and Stripes flights for this year have been scheduled.
That national network said it does not know whether the vaccination requirement will extend into 2022.
“Veteran safety has always been our most important consideration, and we are glad that the Honor Flight Network is so carefully working on how and when to safely resume flights,” according to the statement. “In the meantime, we will continue to plan and to be ready for the exciting moment when we can resume flights for our oldest local veterans.”
Meanwhile, Stars and Stripes Honor Flight is organizing several area events to continue its appreciation of veterans and to raise money for the organization. This includes:
■ A Parade of Honor, at 1 p.m. Sunday, May 23 in Milwaukee. The event will cheer and thank veterans whose Stars and Stripes Honor Flights have been postponed due to COVID-19. Attendees are encouraged to line up at 25th and Canal streets, at 6th and Canal streets, and at Wisconsin Avenue and Prospect Avenue… or anywhere in between.
■ Stix Golf Virtual Scramble for Honor Flight, now through June 6. Teams of four can participate by going to Stix Golf in Germantown and playing nine virtual holes. The cost is $140 per team, with $100 going directly to Honor Flight. The scramble, which started April 3, will conclude with an outdoor party from 11:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. June 6. To learn more or sign up, go to stixgolfbar.com/bookonline.
■ Stars and Stripes All Star Night, Nov. 20, 6 p.m. at the Brookfield Conference Center. This will be a special evening dedicated to raising funds for local veterans to enjoy a Stars and Stripes Honor Flight.