Honoring our Veterans: Flight to Honor

Sage Aging Podcast Episode 60

Honoring our Veterans

Honoring our nation’s veterans isn’t reserved for special holidays. This episode of the Sage Aging podcast honors the brave men and women who served our country, so it looks a little different than most. It is the March episode of “Listen Lakeland.” Listen Lakeland is a collaborative podcast of Lakeland Vision, the City of Lakeland, and Hall Communications and It was my honor to host this heartfelt conversation. I hope you will take the time to listen in.

My Guests

What is Flight to Honor

Flight to Honor honors our nation’s veterans with an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C. to visit the memorials dedicated to honoring those who have served and sacrificed for our country. Established in January 2015, Flight to Honor is based in Polk County, Florida. The mission is a one-day event that departs from Lakeland Linder International Airport early in the morning and returns in the evening. Any Veteran who has not previously participated in an Honor Flight or Flight to Honor is eligible for the mission. The next mission is April 26, 2022.

Flight Day

It’s hard to paint a picture of Flight to Honor using words. However, with a little imagination, I’m sure you will get the picture! Flight day goes something like this.

  • Veterans and Guardians check in at the airport at 4am for breakfast and to prepare for the day’s mission.
  • At 6am approximately 180 veterans, guardians, and volunteers take off on a chartered commercial aircraft for a day to remember. Excitedly, they embark on a day they’ll never forget.
  • While in D.C., they visit the World War II Memorial, the Korean War Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial and the Vietnam Wall Memorial. Additionally, veterans visit the memorial for their specific war service period with fellow veterans who also served during that period.
  • Ahighlight of the day, is a visit to Arlington National Cemetery and the moving Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
  • After a full day in D.C., the group boards the plane for the trip back to Lakeland but the excitement doesn’t end there.
  • Veterans receive a surprise mail call on the flight home. Mail Call is cards and letters from family, friends, school children, and others in the community expressing their appreciation and thanks for their service. This is a favorite and emotional throwback for many veterans and a great way for the community to participate in honoring our veterans.
  • Veterans return home to a grand celebration. Greeted by cheers, live music, posters expressing thanks, and so much more is an emotional event for many vets. It really is hard to put this celebration into words. The community joins this celebration and never disappoints, showing up in large numbers to welcome our veterans home!

How to Participate


All Veterans who have not participated in a previous Honor Flight or Flight to Honor are eligible for the mission. Veterans participating in the mission fly for free and are accompanied by a Guardian for the day. Mail completed applications to:

Flight of Honor
PO Box 3911
Lakeland, FL  33802


Guardians are paired with a veteran share a once-in-a-lifetime experience.   Individuals selected to accompany a veteran on Flight to Honor are asked to donate $500 to help fund the mission. There is often a waiting list for guardians, but don’t let that stop you from applying. Applications are kept on file for future flights. Mail completed applications to:

Flight of Honor
PO Box 3911
Lakeland, FL  33802

A Personal Note from Liz

It is very easy to take for granted the freedoms that we enjoy and I strive not to be guilty of that. So it was my honor and privilege to host this conversation. I’m grateful to have spent time with Gary and Tabitha and I’m humbled by their openness in all they shared. From the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU for opening that door to me and all those who will read this post and/or listen to this podcast.

Did You Enjoy This Episode?

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Liz Craven
Author: Liz Craven

Liz Craven, along with her husband Wes, owns Pro-Ad Media, publisher of Sage Aging ElderCare Guide, serving the local community for over 28 years. Liz lives in Lakeland and is very active in the local community, specifically in the area of aging. Liz serves on a number of local boards and committees including the Lakeland Vision and Age Friendly Lakeland.