Inside Honor Flight Columbus Mission 125 with OhioHealth
Inside each smile, each warm embrace, and every salute, is a story. A personal journey that helped shape a nation. So, how do you give back to those who have already given so much? In support of our nation's veterans, Honor Flight Columbus Mission 125 took the air on Sept. 28, sponsored by OhioHealth. This unforgettable journey allowed veterans to visit monuments in Washington, D.C. that honor their service and their sacrifice.
“Being a veteran myself, I've got a lot of respect for these folks and what they did and what they sacrificed,” said Stephen Markovich, MD, President and Chief Executive Officer of OhioHealth. “And then to see the energy of all the staff and the support folks. Everybody's in a great mood, everybody's excited, but I think there's thought in the background about the sacrifice and how we got here. What people gave years and years ago.
“When I drove up today, it just really took my breath away when I walked in and saw the veterans and their families and the chaperones and the Honor Flight team and then the OhioHealth team,” said president of the OhioHealth Foundation and senior vice president of OhioHealth, Karen Morrison. Looking at what a partnership can really do to create a momentum and a movement.”
From the moment they boarded the plane, this was an experience filled with reflection and gratitude.
“It's very touching, very nice, very rewarding,” said Joel Garber, retired U.S. Navy veteran. “I appreciate any and all the sponsors that have sponsored this over the years and continue to for all the veterans. It's a wonderful experience.”
Many OhioHealth associates joined the trip as guardians, offering the veterans a helping hand and listening ear as they look back on the impact of their service to the nation. Cherie Smith went as a guardian, a veteran herself, and now the chief nursing officer at Grady Memorial and Dublin Methodist Hospitals.
“As a veteran myself, it’s so important just to come back and really take in all of the monuments and really pay respect to all of those who gave the ultimate sacrifices to our country and also to be a part of OhioHealth. This great sponsorship is amazing. It just represents our commitment to our community and also our commitment to our veterans.”
For many of these veterans, the trip allowed them to pay tribute to their fallen comrades and friends.
“The wall—I have a couple of friends on there,” shared Howard Patrick, retired U.S. Navy veteran. “And it means a lot for me to come here and be able to honor them and the other men and women who have died serving this country.”
Upon their return, the veterans received a long-awaited homecoming celebration at John Glenn International Airport, a moment many had never experienced before. More than 2,000 family members, supporters, and OhioHealth associates warmly welcomed them home, adding to a day they will never forget. This day left a profound impact on everyone. A simple day trip, a snapshot of 16 short hours. For OhioHealth leaders, there's no thank you enough.
“It really relates to our mission to improve the health of those we serve and then health is wellbeing. It's physical health, emotional health, and as we think about our veterans, it's caring for them,” said Morrison.
But this day serves as a promise. A promise that lasts beyond this singular sponsorship opportunity.
“OhioHealth—we just want to give a little bit of time and share a little bit of our treasure with them to support and make this happen. This is just a little way to pay it back,” said Dr. Markovich.
To learn more about Honor Flight Columbus, click here.