The holidays are suddenly upon us, complete with the bustle of shopping, the crisp, cold air, and too much baking and imbibing. Many of us will reunite with family and old friends, relax around a crackling fire, or stress out over our many to-do lists and the thought that there are only 16 days till Christmas.
Others are marking time, too. In hospital beds, in rehab units struggling to relearn the most basic of daily tasks…far from loved ones, marked by war, and often alone. Their days are filled with therapists, pain, and even boredom.
While most service members have spent a holiday or two or ten away from family, have you ever wondered what happens to America’s wounded warriors during the holiday season, especially those still actively recovering? While the military covers up to three separate flights for family members of the wounded, those can be quickly exhausted over months of surgeries, recovery, and rehabilitation. Consider that many of these heroes are young troops without the resources to pay for flights to reunite with their loved ones. And when the holidays roll around, the wounded warrior may be virtually alone.
That’s where Luke’s Wings steps in. Founded in 2008 by Fletcher Gill and Sarah Wingfield, Luke’s Wings (named for the first wounded soldier the organization helped) provides transport for the families of wounded warriors through travel agency services and purchase of tickets. And right now, Luke’s Wings is sponsoring its holiday campaign, “No Soldier Spends Christmas Alone,” in hopes of meeting the need for an increased number of flights over the holiday season.
Luke’s Wings Executive Director of Family Communications and Logistics, Jenn Magerer, puts it this way: “We’re working with many young service members who may have young families. The average cost of a flight is about $380. They often need several flights which compounds the issue, so if we can provide one thing that helps, we’re so glad to do it.
PTSD over the holidays is such a problem, so we consider this holiday campaign to be even more of a mitigating service. People are floored when they hear service members only get three flights and they’ve already used them up and still have months of recovery ahead. All we can do is keep spreading the word that there is a need and we have a service and could use help.”
Emily Neufeld of Luke’s Wings adds, “It’s an absolute privilege for us to step in and fill that gap and do what we can to help, expressing our gratitude to those who have served for us. It’s such an honor for us.”
Want to help reunite our nation’s wounded warriors with their loved ones over the holidays? Consider donating your extra Delta miles (1,000 miles minimum) at lukeswings.org or making a donation to the “No Soldier Spends Christmas Alone” campaign. For every $50 gift, you’ll receive a 2014 ornament from Luke’s Wings. (All actively recovering wounded service members are eligible for flights. See the website for more information or to request help with travel.)
Luke’s Wings’ motto: “Give back. Support a hero.”
Check them out, here!