Sixth flight on September 18

Freedom Honor Flight¹s sixth mission accommodates increasing numbers of physical challenges

LA CROSSE, Wis., September 15, 2010-Saturday¹s flight to Washington D.C. will honor 104 veterans by transporting them to see their war memorials. Coordinating this flight required more preparation and equipment to assist the World War II veterans than other flights, a trend organizers expect to continue. The youngest World War II veterans are in their mid-eighties.

On Saturday, 40 veterans will be using wheelchairs, six will require portable oxygen. A fourth bus was added to the Washington D.C. plans to accommodate the extra mobility issues. Each of the four buses is equipped with a wheelchair lift.

Any of the usual issues you see in an older population can and do come up, notes Kevin Kuchar, paramedic and volunteer director of medical services for each flight. The four paramedics and two physicians of the medical crew are available to assist any member of the flight as needed. Assistance may include helping with a blood sugar check, portable oxygen or getting in and out of wheelchairs. Volunteer guardians who accompany the veterans received special training.

Freedom Honor Flight vice president of operations Cheryl Higgins hopes veterans who have hesitated to apply due to physical limitations will reconsider, “We will do everything we can to comfortably accommodate them and make their trip very special.”

Organizers are able to provide the aircraft, buses, wheelchairs, oxygen and all other accommodations through the generous donations of individuals and businesses. The group receives no government funding. Supporters can visit to donate online.

The public is invited to attend the welcome home ceremony Saturday evening at Colgan Air hangar, east of the La Crosse Municipal Airport. Families and friends can also monitor the day¹s activities through Facebook at Freedom Honor Flight.