Veterans Airlift Command arranged flights to Washington DC for my father and I after my Nephew was critically injured and lost his legs while serving in Afghanistan. I just simply can't say enough about this organization, they helped my father and I in a way that I never thought possible. Jennifer, the main flight coordinator was compassionate, polite and above all else made what seemed like the impossible, possible. All of the pilots were incredible with hearts of gold. This is truly an organization dedicated to helping people, they truly do give back to our nations wounded and their families.
I flew 2 combat veterans and their coordinator from Washington to Long Island for a Wounded Warriors Project weekend bike event. The experience was humbling. The veterans were upbeat, grateful and friendly. The flight was well coordinated and, in spite of potential weather problems, came off exactly as planned. VAC called me to make sure things were satisfactory and to get feedback. Couldn't be happier with the organization or the experience.
Yesterday I had the honor of flying my second mission for VAC. It was a flight of 4 aircraft and 9 warriors to NYC so that they could participate in the Soldier Ride 100 Mile bike ride from NY City to Long Island. All had one or both legs missing but all managed to get onboard a variety of aircraft. It was amazing to see guys running over on crutches to help a buddy board his aircraft. The WRAMC coordinator, Harvey Naranjo took personal pride and interest in each soldier as he transition to civilian life or his return to military duty. If you want a rewarding experience that you can't find anywhere, volunteer to fly these guys and learn firsthand the sacrifices that they have made for our freedom.
Jen Salvati was great in getting me a flight with my puppy that is going to trained as a therepy dog from Jackson MS to NYC. In one day we had a flight lined up. The Pilot Doug called me to make arrangements. At the last minute my 9 year old daughter asked if she could accompany me back to NYC to spend the summer with me. Doug was not only accomadating but excited to have her along. We met at the airport in Jackson. It was an awsome King Air 200. Doug and his friend Alan A very accomplished pilot himself and a Vietnam Marine Corps Combat Veteran were very gracious. They treated us like royalty. My daughter got to "fly" the plane at 27,000 feet. The puppy enjoyed getting to stretch out in the isle and soak up the cold A/C. We landed in West Virginia to walk the puppy and they treatec us to a great lunch with the beautiful West Virginia mountains in the background. Thenm it was off to our final destination a small airport in Connecticut. When we landed my friend Ace a wounded Iraq war veteran was allowed to drive his car on the runway to the plane to pick us up. He was rather excited just to get to do that. Everyone involved in helping make this great trip happen was were more the amazing! Thank you so much from my daughter Lizzy, the puppy Pepe and myself. LT Mark Infantry
I have carried several wounded veterans to personal or training destinations. Almost all have lost a leg or two. It is inspiring to meet these young men and some of their families. If there is a valid criticisom of VAC it is that not many veterans know about this service. I'm certain many more flights would be done if requested.
it was fantastic ! we had a blast and we owe it all to the veteran airlift command ! May God continue to bless your organization always
Veterans Airlift Command is an exceptional organization that provides an extraordinary service to wounded servicemembers. I have had the privelege of flying through them and it was a wonderful experience for my family and I.
My family and I had a great experience. I would highly recommend Veterans Airlift Command to other veterans or family members of veterans. It was great not having to go threw security and waiting in line.
I am a Soldier who has served in Iraq on a couple of occasions. I am currently with the Warrior Transition Unit at Fort Hood, Tx. VAC and some of its wonderful volunteer pilots flew me, my wife, and two boys home to New Jersey to visit my parents for the first time since my surgery. It was the most wonderfull experience I have had in recent memory. Everyone was so helpfull, accomadating, and pleasant. They gave of their time and aircrafts just to thank me, yet I am the one who should thank them. I hope they realize just how much joy they brought to me. Seeing my mom and dad along with all of my nieces and nephews gave me a memory that will last a lifetime.
A GREAT program started by a GREAT Patriot! I have only flown two missions so far, but both experiences were very moving for me. We all take for granted what these young men and women do for us. they give freely of themselves and put themselves in harm's way without blinking an eye. It feels REALLY good to be able to give them some help when they need it!
Outstanding organization. Provided at least 2 separate flights, one for me while at walter reed hospital and one for my family member later to come visit me. Thank you all!
What generous people! We had never been on a small plane and found it to be quite fun.Thank you everyone! Cole & Heather Gainey
It was so nice to be able to be with my son in San Diego for an important doctor appointment. Both pilots, coming and going, were very friendly. This is a wonderful service that you do. thanks again, Lisa Santana Proud Mom of a Marine
My name is Chris Payne. I was injured in Iraq in 2007. I heard about Veterans Airlift Command while at Walter Reed. My extended family was planning a vacation to Myrtle Beach while my wife, two children and I were still at Walter Reed being treated. There was no way, due to the ages of my children and the status of my injuries at the time, that we could make the trip driving or flying commercially. We contacted VAC and we were surprised at how easy everything was. We were treated with the utmost respect throughout the entire process, both in filling out the application and throughout the planning the trip with the pilot. We were so impressed that a few months later when were going on leave to Tennessee when we were in the same situation with planning the trip that we contacted VAC again. i would recommend VAC to anyone and everyone. Both pilots were amazing. They were couteous and helpful and very friendly. Thank you so much VAC you were very helpful and because of your kindness two of the most important emotional events in my recovery were made that much easier to plan and that much more helpful to me and my family.
Veterans Airlift is a great organization. When my husband lost his arm in Iraq in January of 2008, we were living in Savannah, GA. He was sent to Walter Reed up in DC and Veterans Airlift provided transportation for myself and my children numerous times between Savannah and DC. My mom was recovering from a bone marrow transplant and was not allowed to fly commercial due to the germs. Veterans Airlift provided my parents with a flight to be able to visit. They also provided the whole family with transportation to a wounded warrior bike ride in Colorado.
"Imagine returning home from combat facing devastating injuries and long term hospitalization--in a facility hundreds of miles away from your family. Imagine somebody brings you together." With these words, the Veterans Airlift Command (VAC) introduces its website (www.veteransairlift.org) and summarizes its mission. Consisting entirely of volunteer pilots and aircraft owners who receive no compensation, the VAC provides private air transportation to our wounded warriors who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as to their families. I have just had the honor and privilege to fly my first mission for the VAC, transporting a severely wounded young soldier and his wife to their hometown in Texas. Ryan was a 22 year old gunner on a Humvee that was blown up in Iraq. He has been receiving medical treatment for 2 years. He is doing well, but his injuries are horrific. The FAA has assigned the call sign "Hero Flight" to these missions, and as we flew across the country and I spoke to each air traffic control facility as a Hero Flight, most of the FAA controllers knew the meaning and conveyed a personal message of thanks to my passengers before handing us off to the next facility. Those controllers that did not know the meaning of Hero Flight asked, and my explanation was met with the same expressions of thanks. Ryan and his wife smiled when they heard these air traffic control thank you's directed at them. Ryan and his wife were greeted at our destination in Texas by both their families, and I was overwhelmed by the expressions of appreciation directed at me. What I did was nothing, compared to what Ryan and his fellow soldiers have done. Thank you, Ryan.
setting up the flights was easy. the pilots and co-pilots were awesome. i would reccomend VAC to anyone who needed a flight home.
I was fortunate enough to be involved with this organization initially in 2008. I was flown from Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington DC to my home in Junction City, KS. The trip began with a limo ride arranged for my wife and I from Walter Reed to the Airport. The short walk to plane side was a great departure from the typical full-body searches that all amputees are so familiar with in the TSA lines. The flight itself was great to say the least and the crew extremely professional. Our flight landed in a small municipal airport near our home which made for an extremely short drive home and the overall trip was drastically shorter than traditional travel, which at the time was exceptional considering my medical condition. My wife and I only wish we were able to fly travel like this on a regular basis due to the stress free environment. My wife and I are extremely grateful to Veterans Airlift Command and the other volunteers and contributors that made this possible. Thank You to a great organization! Matthew and Maria Miles
I michael pass had a couple of flights with VAC. I pilots are very nice and encouraging to fly with. If you and any qestion about the flight ask and they will answer them. The staff at VAC are very helpful in arranging for the the pilots to are close to you and are familiar with the area/ weather conditions. Thankyou for wonderful time. michael pass
Disabled Sports Eastern Sierra hosts three annual Wounded Warrior events at Mammoth Mountain, CA. We are a 7-8 hour drive away from the Balboa Naval Medical Hospital in San Diego and this long drive is hard to take for many of our Wounded Warriors. Luckily this is where the Veteran Airlift Command comes in! They fly the wounded men and women, wheelchairs, service dogs,extra prosthetics, and staff from San Diego to the Mammoth/Yosemite Airport. Jennifer Salvati's expertise in coordinating the undertaking is extraordinary! She orchestrates the flights like a maestro.
Flying is one of my greatest joys in life. Without the selfless, courageous military men and women defending our American freedoms, I would not be able to soar unfettered as I do. Piloting a Hero Flight for VAC is a duty I take on with a grateful, humble and respectful heart!
My brother was injured in October of 2006. During his recovery, at the VA in Minnesota, my family and I received transportation through Veterans Airlift Command. Without their help we would have not been able to give my brother the support he needed during this tough period. I cannot thank them enough for everything they have done! I would like to personally thank anyone who is involved with this organization, and let you know that what you did for my family was truly a blessing!
I have had the honor of flying wounded Veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan and find it a very moving experience. These young people have had traumatic injuries and are rebuilding their lives. We are able to give them such a small token of thanks for their service by being able to move them from one place to another in an aircraft that makes it easy to travel with those wounds. They do not ask for much, just a chance to get back into the semblance of a normal life. I am proud to have the opportunity to know and help these unsung heroes.
There are many things you do in your life however there are a few that really matter. Helping others who are not so fortunate is at the top of the list. The Lord has blessed my family and I have had the fortune of being a part of the Military (Air Force) for 30 years. They taught me to fly and I was a fortunate one to end up flying "Trash Haulers" or cargo planes delivering much need supplies to our troops. Now I get to continue helping our troops who protect the United States and our way of life.
My son is a wounded warrior who was burned 35%from thighs up. He was in the hospital in CA for 3 months and I was with him. He was transferred to BAMC in San Antonio, TX where he remained for another 6 months for surgeries and rehab. During that time, we did not get away from the hospital very often. We were apprised of a progam that air lifted wounded soldiers so they didn't have to sit for lengthy periods of time in airports being subjected to stares and long waits while in pain. Our first flight took us to Dallas and a weekend home with family. We met the pilot at a small airport and our luggage was placed on the plane, we took off and were home shortly. When we were to return home, the process was reversed and the flight back to San Antonio was completed. It was great to get away and not have to sit and wait in an airport. We so appreciated the trip and a nice weekend with family and at no cost to us. We had occasion to use their services two more times with similar experiences. Each flight was special and the pilots were friendly and courteous. I know other wounded soldiers have been able to take advantage of this service. It is a wonderful feeling to know that their service means something to someone besides their families and that others are willing to give back to them. Thank you so much for caring!
This organization headed by one of my heors Walt Fricke has been a life saver for many w wounded and his family. I just cannot say enough about Veterans Airlift Command and hope all get a chance to donate. You will not regret it. Much love and Angel wing hugs to VAC wingtip to wingtip. Patti Patton-Bader Soldiers Angels
I cannot even start to say how thankful I am for what your organization has done for me and my family not only once but twice!! Every piolt I flew with was courteous and thankful for my service. Never once did I have to carry any luggage to or from the aircraft. Also all information was provided for me well in advance. Again I thank you on behalf of my family and myself. Hoorah!!! Sgt Hill USA Wounded Warrior
I've been blessed to fly three missions for the VAC. It is very gratifying to know that by serving, you are directly supporting the healing process for wounded warriors. VAC is very well organized. The protocols for arranging a flight are very straightforward. The web site is a big help in facilitating communication with passengers. I can't think of anything I would suggest VAC do differently.
It was a great honor for me to be able to assist this war hero. I hope to be able to carry out many more missions for the Veterans Airlift Command.
I was fortunate enough to be on board one of our Veteran Lifts. My 8 and 9 year old boys went with me to pick up a soldier in New York and take him to Tampa. I made sure my boys had a little sensitivity training to what they might see (wheelchair, loading, etc.). I had no idea what an impact this lift has made on my life and a long lasting impact with my children. They know what it means to be a hero but more importantly they learned how to be his hero and friend. They know what it means that he made a sacrifice for them. They probably remember most how much fun it was playing with him and he with them. It was like an uncle they had never met and he himself was a big kid. Laughter and friendship filled the aircraft and once we landed they were transformed into his personal travel companions. Your children should have exposure to this type of philantrophy. It's a trip we will not soon forget.
I am a social worker at a VAMC and have used Veterans Airlift Command several times to send injured Veterans and Servicemembers home to visit family and friends as many of them are far away from family while they are being treated for injuries. In my experience, Veterans Airlift Command has been very accomodating to my patients' wishes and needs. Many of the patients have also expressed not only enjoying their trip home, but enjoying the flight and the pilots. Your kindness and compassion toward the Veterans and Servicemembers we treat is much appreciated.
Veterans Airlift Command (VAC) does a great job of coordinating air transportation between Veterans who need help and private/corporate pilots who have volunteered to provide free trips. I have flown four missions, the most recent taking a Marine with neurological problems due to a brain injury from Camp LeJune to a specialized center in Atlanta, the Shepherd Center. A grueling 6 hour ground trip, or a potentially confusing commercial flight with two or three stops became a relaxed, point to point two hour flight. Other missions included getting an Soldier home from the hospital in time for his daughter's graduation, and taking the wife of a service member to Walter Reed to be with her husband during treatment. As a combat Veteran myself, I understand all too well where the gaps are in the system, and VAC helps bridge one of these gaps.
As the case manager for the military outreach program at the Shepherd Center, Atlanta (the Share Initiative), I have had extremely positive experiences working with Veterans Airlift Command. They have assisted in flying veterans as well as active duty service members and their families to our TBI/ PTSD treatment program, and have also been very flexibile in developing transportation schedules to allow our clients to commute between our program and their homes if their treatment focus is the transition back into the home. This allows our clients to apply and practice routines and strategies acquired in our program into in their home environments and then provide feedback upon their return to treatment. Veteran's Airlift Command has been extremely flexible and has been able to assist us with rather complicated flight schedules and destinations (e.g., Atlanta to South Dakota) on short notice and free of charge to our clients. Our clients with PTSD appreciate not having to fly from large, busy airports on commercial airlines and have had very positive experiences with the personal attention of the Veterans Airlift Command Pilots.
My name is LT. Robert Jackson, Jr. and I utilized the VAC services during my stay at Walter Reed Medical Center for surgery during the month of Dec 09 and Jan 09. Quite simply they were a life saver. Because I ended up funding my own travel and lodging expenses because my command would not provide Cost TDY Orders, cash was limited and time was critical. I utilized the VAC service on 3 separate occassions saving me lodging expenses of approx $1,000.00. The staff and Management of VAC bent over backward to ensure my requests were met; twice on very short notice. The pilots were all very good and very professional, during the holiday season 7,000 miles away from family (in Germany)this was a GOD SEND!! Thanks. LT. Robert Jackson, Jr. LDO USN
Fellow VAC Pilot Roger and I took off from Big Bear City Airport for the 100 mile flight to San Diego arriving just before noon. We met Marine Corporal’s Christopher Lawrence and Brett Sobaski at the terminal. Each Marine sat right seat in our Cessnas doing a fantastic job navigating over Miramar Naval Air Station and March Air Reserve Base en route back to Big Bear. First impressions proved accurate throughout the weekend as these two shining examples of courage & patriotism reminded us of the thousands of men and women who risk their lives to keep our country free. Seventy-five community members came out to thank the Marines for the sacrifices they’ve made and injuries they’ve suffered to keep us free. With the Marine Hymn playing in the background, retired Marine Colonel Bill Alley choked back tears of pride as he presented the Marines with a decorated cake, thanking the soldiers for service to their country. A dozen other Marine Veterans in attendance were evidenced by utterances of “Semper Fi” and “Oorah” heard throughout the afternoon. It was a proud day for all of us. Both Marines expressed thanks and appreciation to those in attendance, and again tears started to flow. A standing ovation was immediate and well deserved for these two amazing young men. This was a very special weekend for many people in Big Bear and Roger and I look forward to doing it again as VAC volunteers. Marine Corporals Christopher Lawrence and Brett Sobaski should be a reminder to all of us that there are hundreds more like them rehabilitating in Military Hospitals all round the country. They appreciate any show of support that you can give them. Stop by a hospital and visit, send a card or care package, take them out on the town or a short trip, everything is appreciated. Thanks to all the VAC volunteers and pilots for what they do. It does make a difference.
OMG! i hardly know where to start. I am an ex-Marine (Viet Nam era) who took up flying at age 60. I have flown over 120 mercy missions for other organizations over the past 10 years, plus several supply flights for charity. I recently flew 2 Wounded Warriors frorm San Diego to Mamoth Mountain for a special weekend hosted by the Mamoth Community in honor of these wounded heros. One US Marine had lost both legs from an IED blast and the other US soldier had been "stiched" across the torso by an AK47. Other than the fact that they both were obviously working at ignoring great pain, they were the most positive, determined and sprirted young people I have been around in a long time. Their outlook for the future could not have been more optimistic; but the burning desire of each was to return to battle and support their buddies. After dropping them off, I was on an emotional high which has lasted through to this day. Such unbelievable courage is so refreshing and balances out any personal negatives I have experienced since that mission. I can hardly wait to be assigned another flight for these amazing Wounded Warriors.
My experience with Veterans Airlift Command. It was one of the best things that happen to my family after having my husband step on an IED. Fighting for his life with me being by his side having to leave my kids behind. Veterans Airlift Command Flew in to a small airport in Atlanta and brought my kids and an adult family member to Washington DC to my husbands bed side to visit. my husband fought for his life for several months. Having his family by his side I believed was what he need to make the turn that we was praying for for months Thank you so much Veterans Airlift Command.
I have volunteered my aircraft and services since the early days of VAC. I spent 21 years in the USAF in fighter aviation related jobs including 350 combat missions in SEA. VAC has offered me the opportunity become involved in a desperately needed service to those who have given so much for the freedom and priviledges we, as American, enjoy. Each mission is unique in the experiences and purpose. Each military hero I fly with has had a horrible experience but has an absolutely indominatable spirit. Each one and their families leave me feeling humble and proud I can do something--a service that few can provide. Makes me feel wonderful knowing I have the resources and opportunity to be part of lives, recovery and future success of our great American fighting men and women. Chuck Fulton, Col USAF Retired
I have been associated with the Veterans Airlift Command (VAC) for the last 15 months. They are a class organization that provides transportation services for our wounded veterans. They work closely with other veteran groups such as the Wounded Warrior Project and Veteran Outdoors, and they also work directly with individual veterans. All these groups focus on helping our wounded veterans in their transition back into civilian life by providing special activities and services and in the case of VAC, helping them travel to and from those activities. The VAC Staff is superb and works tirelessly to arrange air transportation all over the U.S. and often will little or no notice. I am very proud to be able to work with this fine group of folks and to be able to serve the wounded vets that have given so much for the rest of us.
While stationed in Washington DC from 2006 -2008, I became aware of this organization that assists our wounded warriors and their families. My mobilization was not going to send me into the war zone and I felt that I could do something for those that served in harms way. I own an airplane and am able to provide the warrior and their families with needed transporation at no cost to them. The inner feeling of having contributed is tremendous and the reward is seeing how much they appreciate my small efforts. I have only been able to provide transportation to one family but I managed to donate to the Veterans Airlift Command to help keep it going.
I flew a soldier who was recovering from his wounds by an IED in Afghanistan and his family from his base in Killen,Texas to Albuquerque,New Mexico, where we meet another volunteer to fly them on to Lake Havasu, Arizona. The trip was to attend his sister's wedding, which was a real morale booster to aid in his recovery. These locations are not served by commercial flights, so our help make the trip both possible time wise and economically feasible for them. They were so grateful, and I cannot adequately express the feeling one gets from providing a little help to those who have already given so much in protecting us and our country.
First, without veterans, we would not be free to fly...period. I have had the previlege to fly some veterans in the past 6 months. This flying helped them to reach various desinations to better their lifes. This is a small appreciation to show for what they have given me and our freedom.
It was great flying with all these people who donate there plane. I had a great time and learned a little about aviation. It really made flying home relaxing and the same time exciting.
VAC pilots flew me to a veteran hunt in Texas. The pilots were very friendly. The whole experience was hard to believe. Just to think that there are people willing to help me go have fun. It was amazing.
I've known Walt Fricke for a long time now. It seems we met at an Aleethia foundation dinner before they were called that. I've shared the VAC with numerous vets and the experience is always great. I can't imagine why a wounded service member would travel any other way. The first time I flew in a VAC chartered aircraft was May of 2009. Having been wounded three years prior I wasn't sure if I was a candidate, but Walt assured me that he had a ton of Marines who were looking for an excuse to fly a wounded Marine anywhere he wanted to go. That's not to say they are not as excited to fly anyone, but if you are a Marine you know the special bond we share. Semper Fi! After that experience I became a big proponent of the VAC and I have witnessed first hand several missions which the VAC made extremely memorable. One day I received a call from Walter Reed in regards to a retired Sgt. Major who had passed away. I was on my way to a concert and six of this Marine's family member's needed flights back to North Carolina. The VAC came through with flying colors! I know the Sgt. Major's wife is extremely grateful for their help in time of grief and need. I am extremely honored to be called friend by so many great Americans!
As a wounded veteran, I have had the opportunity to be served by the Veterans Airlift Command. I am a below-knee amputee and twice, while I was recovering from my surgeries, I wanted to spend some time with my family. They were not able to be here in San Antonio with me. On one occasion, I was flown home for a long weekend. The freedom to just show up at the aircraft with my wheelchair crutches and a bag was a great weight off of my shoulders. The owner and his other pilot were beyond nice and I felt at home even though I was a guest their personal jet! On the second occasion, I was recovering from another surgey and my wife had planned a trip to Disney World. Once again, without a prosthesis, I worried how I would manage the kids, our stuff and myself through the TSA security maze and major airport crowds. Again, the VAC stepped up, and flew me along with my family to Orlando and it made it so much easier. Again, the Owner and his crew were as nice as could be and treated my family like they were one of their own. My wife and children will remember that for a lifetime. The Veterans Airlift Command serves a great purpose. The volunteers give of their time, money and property to enhance my lifa and those of my fellow servicemen. Thanks to Walt Fricke and all of the great Americans that assist in his efforts!
My husband was wounded in Iraq in August 2007 and was hospitalized at WRAMC for months. When he did get out of the hospital he really wanted to get home to see our families, that is where Veterans Airlift Command came in. We heard about the program from the Fisher House and got in contact with them. They were very kind to our situation and got us home in time for the holidays! They truely made our wishes come true that year. They deserve much praise! Thank you Jen and all at Veterans Airlift Command
I run the Air Warrior Courage Foundation assistance program for wounded warriors at Brooke Army Medical Center. We have requested VAC airlift on several occassions for wounded soldiers going on morale building trips to fish, sightsee, and scuba dive. We have always received outstanding support and the soldiers enjoy the flights almost as much as they like the recreation. The pilots have been wonderful and they have alwasys treated our wounded with the great care and respect. I give VAC a five star rateing without reservation. Gary Baber, Local Force CinC, San Antonio River Rats.
Every experience with VAC has been excellent. Everyone has been very helpful and open. They are very prompt in returning calls and everyone has always been on time. I am very grateful for this great organization and the great people who run it.
I love what VAC does, and I love it when I'm able to fly a mission for a veteran and/or a Vet's family. My last mission was a bust because of a mechanical issue with the plane and I felt really badly for having let them down. This was on December 26 and involved flying up to Northern Arkansas to pick up a Vet and his wife and fly them to San Antonio. They had originated in the morning near Chicago and were headed back to BAMC after a Christmas break. To make a long and somewhat technical story short, but mid morning, I realized the plane was never going to be able to make the trip and I called HQ to give them the bad news. They put out their equivalent of an APB and - incredibly - within 10 minutes had the leg covered! It is a complete testament to the organization, and the pilots that this type of quick reaction to a problem can be solved.