I found out about the Kansas City based Warriors’ Ascent Academy of Healing from a great friend of mine John Durham who still lives in El Paso Texas. (We met each other in 2015 through participation with Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association, another non-profit organization.) He had just completed class 17 and wanted to share the tools he had found that helped him begin to heal wounds from Post-Traumatic Stress. Eight days before Warriors’ Ascent Academy of Healing class 18 was to begin I worked up the courage and sent an email to Jay Waldo, one of the founders. Thank goodness he responded almost immediately with news that there was in fact a seat for me. Warriors’ Ascent is unique in that Military Veterans, Police Officers, and Fire Fighters come together to concentrate on Mind, Body, and Soul. Currently I live near Nashville TN, so the 10 hour drive would have wiped out this Veteran with back issues for a few days, so I would not have been an ideal student at that point. I got online and tried to find a flight to Kansas City and became discouraged, since I was only a week away the ticket prices were out of reach. I contacted Mr. Waldo with my concern and he told me to contact Veterans Airlift. I used to be a very skeptical and negative person, so I figured maybe this is just not meant to be. Thankfully, to my rescue comes Veterans Airlift Command, another non-profit agency, the VAC provides free air transportation to post 9/11 combat wounded and their families for medical and other compassionate purposes through a national network of volunteer aircraft owners and pilots. I sent an email to Jenna Deibel, Mission Coordinator VAC, and in less than 10 minutes she called me to find out if they could help. Fortunately for me the Academy of Healing was in fact a program that met criteria and qualified me for assistance. After answering a few simple questions Jenna let me know that she would have me a flight confirmed within the next 3 hours. True to her word in about 2 hours I got a call and was given the pilots name. Joe Creecy, who happens to be the Chapter Leader of the Nashville IMC Club called to let me know the details of the flight and to answer any questions I had. Now if that is not awesome enough, the story gets even more heartwarming. Due to hurricane Nate the flight to Kansas City was not going to be possible, I was crushed by this news, as it was Saturday night and we were to head to KC Sunday. Never fear, Mr. Creecy secured me a commercial airline ticket to get me to KC. Now accepting a ride in someone’s airplane was something I convinced myself was ok to do, however, allowing someone to buy me a ticket was out of my comfort zone. After quite a bit of back and forth Mr. Creecy convinced me to accept the ticket, he just wants to help Veterans who are trying to help themselves. It does not stop there, so that I would not end up with my car in the wrong place, (my return flight from KC was already booked to Clarksville) Joe Creecy flew up to Clarksville, picked me up and flew me to a small airfield in Nashville. Then he drove me to the International Airport in Nashville, talk about going the extra mile. I am afraid I got tears on his shoulder when I hugged him in thanks. It’s just not every day that a stranger goes that far out of their way to help me, actually nothing like that had ever happened before. I did arrive in Kansas City on time and made it to the Warriors’ Ascent Academy of Healing. I had no preconceived notion about the course and really wasn’t sure what to expect. John Durham had told me just go in with an open mind and trust the process. I have to say this will go down as the most important 5 day course I ever worked up the courage to attend. While it is hard to explain what changed in me at the Academy, I will just say my Mind, Body, and Soul are on the track of continued healing. After graduation I had no plan for how I would get to the airport for my return Veterans Airlift flight, but with my new outlook on life I knew it would work out. The Veteran who left Tennessee to attend the course would have been stressed out and anxious about how he would get to the airport, the man who graduated the Academy does not worry about things like that anymore. Sure enough, I did not have to ask anyone for a ride, Steve Colladay, a Warriors’ Ascent Mentor asked if he could take me to the airport. The awesomeness of these non-profit agencies does not end yet. Next, Ross Schoneboom, a 26 year Army Veteran who is now with Cessna arrived in Kansas City with a jet to get me to Outlaw Field in Clarksville TN. Ross is a consummate professional and treated me as if I was family. It was a great finish to a week that has put me on a course to not only change my life, but I believe I will be able to help others. Thanks to all those involved in this Synchronicity.
US ARMY (RET)
This past weekend, we had the pleasure of flying with VAC and meeting some great people. along the way. The entire trip, from start to finish, was stress free and the whole crew made us feel like family as soon as we met. Jeff, Dick, Keefer, Mike, Leslie, and Jan were all amazing! We are grateful for this experience and you can truly tell how much this group of friends cares about helping others. I haven't laughed as much as we did on both legs of the flight in a long time. Jenna and the VAC volunteers go above and beyond to assist in whichever way they can!
Shawn & Sophie
There are not enough words to describe how much Veteran Airlift Command has positively impacted my life. I lost both eyes and sustained other permanent injuries while serving in Iraq with the USMC. Traveling is on of the biggest triggers I have, airports are not blind friendly. One of the most difficult parts is knowing my wife has to carry so much of the weight when it comes to us flying anywhere. We have used VAC twice now and it has been one of the best opportunities for me. i was never stressed, triggered or on edge. They went above and beyond to make sure my wife and I were fully taken care of. I'd give them ten stars if it was possible. Thank you VAC for all you do for wounded veterans like myself and our families.
Got the opportunity to fly with Veterans Airlift Command a couple times now, and I've got to say, they have really helped out and accommodated Me and my family and service dog Csar very well. We've been able to fly comfortable and with ease when we travel with the pilots that offer up their time with VAC. I hope to continue using VAC in the future and recommend them whenever possible. Truly a very good organization that has been there for me when i needed them most. Thank you VAC for your continued support.
Tom Block, SGT(retired), 75th Ranger Regiment, Army
Thank you to Veterans Airlift Command who organized the flight for me and my family to go home for my Dad's funeral/burial. A special thanks to the generosity of Bruce and Rosemary Rose who flew us down and Jesse Dykman who flew us back. I can't thank you guys enough. You guys brought a bit of light and happiness to our life during a sad and difficult time. Thank you.
The Veterans Airlift Command, Jenna Deibel, and our pilot Jim Penn, played a very important role for my wife and I. I used to be an army infantryman, served 2 deployments in support of OIF III and the surge for baghdad. While on a patrol, my uparmored 1151 was struck by an 8 array EFP in the south rashid Al Jihad AO of baghdad. My wife, Mae and our 5 children are from Micronesia in the pacific, Guam and Saipan. We needed to fly to Alabama to help an elder couple, Frank and Janet Onedera, move to Killeen, TX. Frank has had 2 heart surgeries and has other health conditions. When my wife heard of their move, we offered our help. We will continue to keep all who make this awesome non-profit organization in our hearts and prayers lifting you all up and in a safe journey and safe travels. God Bless you all and thank you Jenna and Jim.
I had a military freefall training accident in August of 2016. I was in the hospital for three months and I have been doing medical rehabilitation since then in San Antonio. When my wife told my children that they were moving to San Antonio to be with daddy (me) while I was doing therapy, one of the first thing my daughter asked was if she was still going to be able to have her and her sister's 7th and 4th birthday party at home in Tennessee with family and friends. My wife couldn't answer her at that time. But thanks to Veterans Airlift Command, they were able to provide flights home for myself, my wife, and 3 children so that we could see family before my next big surgery in a couple days and so that my girls could have their birthday party. I am extremely grateful for them and what they have done for my family and I. Flying is always stressful; having to buy tickets, getting to the airport 2 hours early, checking bags, dealing with security. With VAC, there was none of that. It was by far the best travel experience I've ever had.
All I can tell you is that VAC is nothing but TOP NOTCH. I have had several encounters with member from VAC and they are all outstanding and professional. I recently had a trip to Grand Isle Louisianan. Talked with my outbound pilot several days before the flight and everything was all lined up. All I had to do is show up at the airport and he was there waiting on me. Great flight!. Same experience on the way back.
Great folks at VAC. The pilots I have met have all been very professional and willing to work with me with anything that I needed. If it was not for VAC, I would not have been able to make this trip due to my injuries. They also took another wounded veteran along on this trip with me.
Thanks again VAC
1Sgt TIm Bell
US Army retired
My husband is enrolled in the Share Program in Atlanta Ga For his Ptsd and Traumatic Brain Injury along with physical injuries. Veterans Airlift Command Jim Terry was able to fly my son and I down to Atlanta to spend a weekend with him. Definately a 5 star orginazation. Thank you
My family is so thankful for this amazing program!
I prayed that we would have a way to our brothers wedding if we were supposed to be there. I filled out the info for a flight to the east coast and received a very kind and quick response. Later, got a phone call letting us know that it's harder to find a flight from CA to SC which we totally understood, and figured maybe we just weren't meant to go. She had offered to get us two tickets which we thought was so kind and generous! The only downside was not having anyone to watch our 4 young kids. A little more than a week before the wedding I was talking to my sister in law looking at flights and trying to figure out a way to get there. We said goodnight and we would talk more tomorrow. When I woke up in the morning I had an email saying please call me so we can book your flight! I could not believe it! I was so beyond excited and shocked!! I was just blown away by veterans airlift command for buying a round trip from coast to coast flight for my family! Our family was all beyond happy and greatful we were able to go. Our kids had the most awesome time ever playing with so many of their cousins! We had such an amazing weekend and we can't thank this program enough! The wedding was beautiful, and the time we spent with family was priceless. We will remember forever and be so thankful that we were able to go! Jenna was the sweetest person to communicate with and we appreciate her and everyone involved at Veterans Airlift Command! Thank you so much!!
I cannot express in words my gratitude for this stellar organization. I am a combat Veteran who suffers from PTSD and subsequently choose to self medicate. I was in desperate need of a change in the dysfunctional environment I was in. Once I shared my struggle these folks jumped into action to help facilitate an opportunity to visit with other Veterans. They allowed me to spend time with some old Army family. I know this may sound a bit like hyperbole, but I feel they have played a key role in recovery. Sometimes we all need help and Veteran's Airlift Command walks the walk and live up to the phrase "I've got your six!"
Since my injury fighting in Afghanistan VAC has made it possible for my wife and I to travel comfortably to see family and attend unit reunions. Such a great program! also thank you so much to the selfless pilots that volunteer their time to fly us.
SGT Jon Harmon
Jenna was outstanding representing the VAC for my flight out and back from D.C. to KC. She was amazing showing her support and that of the VAC. I had two great pilots; Mike and Bob. I suffered a TBI from Iraq and was able to get state of the art treatment through a private institution in Bethesda MD: The Brain Wellness and Biofeedback Center (Dr. Mary Lee)/ and treatment paid for by the Brain Wellness Fund-a 501c3 (Beth-"Supporting treatment for our nations heroes with TBI and PTS"). I was able to get parts of my brain working again through a series of these treatments that have not been working since my injury. I cannot thank enough the VAC. They will forever have my gratitude, and be part of a life changing treatment that occurred over six weeks. Thank you soo much for the pilots (Mike and Bob) and VAC support to make this happen.
My family was in desperate need of assistance during a time of tremendous challenge. Veterans Airlift command went way above and beyond to provide me with transportation to a facility which I was able to heal. I cannot say enough how much organizations like this make a positive difference in people's lives.
Stellar organization from start to finish. I was in need of a flight from Denver to Kansas City and Veterans Airlift Command stepped up in a big way. This is one smooth and professional operation. Scheduling was easy and seamless. I received timely information on where and when I was to be picked up. The pilots were professional, on time, and welcoming. I truly appreciated the pilots taking the time to talk with me and take all the guess work out of flying with them in their aircraft. The organization follows up with a courtesy call to see how everything went while in their hands. I am very grateful and humbled for the willingness of everyone involved to support veterans and help my family in a time of need. Thank You!
The support that I received from Veterans Airlift Command this past week was beyond exceptional. Due to this great organization, I was able to get a family member's funeral in Texas with little notice. After filling out my request, I literally received a call a few minutes later from Jenna Deibel to see how they could assist. She took care of our arrangements and made sure we got there on time. Today I also received a call from Andrew Lourake to make sure we made it home safely and to ask how I was doing. What a great group of people helping veterans!
Thank you VAC and pilots Eric Whyte and Mike Conley for helping me get home to see my family and attend the funeral of my Grandmother. I havent been home in over 4 years due to medical treatment and being overseas. You guys are great Americans and I am so grateful to be introduced to this great organization. Thank you for all that you do.
We are delighted to have been the recipients of a flight to me hometown of Miami, FL after a 6-year absence; I am a double amputee, and the last time my family saw me I still had both my legs; not only did my family get a chance to see me, they also met my two youngest sons. we had the most amazing experience while flying in 'HRF510" from Veterans Evaluation Services, our pilots, Howard Turek and Michael Weimert are the most professional pilots I have ever met, thank you!!!
My son was injured in 2005 and I was flown to Germany because he was not supposed to make the flight home. It was an IED and shrapnel the size of a credit card that tore from one side of his brain to the other through the mid line. No one has survived passing through the midline esp since there was blood in it. It also destroyed the whole frontal lobe of the brain, he was burned, had a broken arm. Even the surgeons at NNMC, now Walter Reed, said he would not survive. But he fought to live frequently coming out of the medically induced coma too soon. Again I was told would have no function or even know me. Numerous surgeries, touch and go, infections, collapsed lung, swelling, on and on. When the body started to stabilize months later he opened his eyes once again, looked at me and smiled with definite recognition, The doctors were stunned. We have flown back and forth for surgeries with the military until he was medically retired 2 yrs after the injury, The VA could not handle his injury and still cannot. So whenever I need to get to Walter Reed VAC has been there for me. Commercial flights are impossible for him, the stress of waiting, the 6 6 1/2 size of him, the amount of medication we have to travel with and what we need to take with us would cost more than a flight. The expense alone is just too much, We need to get to Walter Reed fast at times and we will always have to go at least once a year. VAC has been there for us ever since my son has retired. I put in a request and the flight response happens so quickly it is amazing. My son is a miracle that cannot be explained, walking, talking , memory, huge sense of humor, living a quality life even if he cannot live alone. Every owner/crew we have flown with has kept in touch with us. This last trip they texted to follow his surgery, they all love updates through out the year. They are like our flying family. I am ever grateful for the generosity of these wonderful people, It takes so much stress off of me and especially my son when we need to fly. VAC gets it, from the first contact to getting back home, and they are my heroes. Thank you VAC.
My son is a severely injured Marine Sgt. After repeated poor performance by the local VA dealing with an infection it was necessary for him to be flown to Bethesda and seen by his military surgeon. Flying is a challenge with a traumatic brain injury especially with crowds. To be flown by a private pilot was such a tremendous help. It was convenient, stress free and took so much worry off the trip itself that i could focus on my son completely. The pilot and his wife treated us both with as much if not more gratitude for my son's service to our country, as we felt for the flight to Maryland. Our coordinator, Maria, went out of her way to get us the most convenient date and time for the flight as well. I cannot express how important this organization is to us. For me to be able to get to the best medical care possible for my son at no expense is a huge relief and gives me a sense of peace that I can always get him to the best without taking on financial worries as well.