Veterans visit DC memorials with help from GEHA employees

GEHA | May 10, 2019

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GEHA sponsored the April 30 Heartland Honor Flight, which gave more than 80 veterans a full-day trip to Washington, DC, at no cost.
veteran and volunteer in front of memorial
GEHA employee Dianna Sleyster helped World War II veteran Franklin and other veterans who visited Washington, DC, on the April 30 Heartland Honor Flight.
For the second year in a row, GEHA is a Heartland Honor Flight sponsor, helping the organization give more than 80 veterans of World War II, Korea and Vietnam a full-day trip to Washington, DC, to tour the memorials honoring their military service. The trip was on April 30, at no cost to the veterans. GEHA’s financial support helps to offset the cost of the chartered flight, box lunches and leasing tour buses for the veterans.

 

In the weeks leading up to the flight, GEHA employees came together and wrote 244 letters thanking the veterans for their service. These letters were distributed to each veteran during “mail call” on the return flight. GEHA employees, friends, and families joined a cheering crowd at Kansas City International Airport that evening to greet the veterans when they returned, providing an inspiring and well-deserved homecoming.

“Giving back to the communities of the Kansas City area is at the core of GEHA’s mission,” said Sherry Gibbs, vice president, marketing and growth at GEHA. “Heartland Honor Flight is a great cause that we are proud to support, especially since many of GEHA’s benefit plan members and employees have honorably given their time in service to our country.”

Dianna Sleyster, who manages GEHA’s Corporate Social Responsibility Program, traveled on the flight this year as a Volunteer Guardian for a WWII veteran named Franklin, who served in the Marine Corps and was part of the Occupational Forces in North China.

“It was one of the most heartfelt and proudest experiences of my life to watch Franklin get very emotional when we arrived in Washington, DC, and the men, women and children came up to him to thank him for his service,” Sleyster said.

Many of the veterans had not visited Washington, DC, in a long time. Upon arrival, they toured the city with a police escort.

“I was able to talk to many of the veterans as I coordinated wheelchairs and passed out water throughout the day,” said GEHA employee Rebecca Webb, who volunteered as a wheelchair captain. “To be able to see Washington, DC, through their eyes was an opportunity I will never forget.”