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Veterans and their guardians gather at the National World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, July 10, 2019. 
Emma Swislow/Stars and Stripes
Veterans and their guardians gather at the National World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, July 10, 2019. Emma Swislow/Stars and Stripes (STARS AND STRIPES)

WASHINGTON — The Honor Flight Network, which sends veterans to tour war memorials in Washington, D.C., will restart flights in August after a 16-month suspension during the coronavirus pandemic.  

Flights will resume Aug. 16, said Carol Harlow, communications officer for the Honor Flight Network.  

“We have been monitoring closely the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] guidelines and also the District of Columbia guidelines,” Harlow said. “We wouldn’t do this if we weren’t confident we could do it safely.”  

The Honor Flight Network has 125 chapters that help send veterans in their communities to Washington to see the memorials for their wars. Representatives from the hubs met virtually June 12 and decided to restart the flights in August.  

The network is requiring all veterans, guardians and volunteers to be vaccinated against the coronavirus or take a coronavirus test 72 hours before the flight departs, Harlow said. The day of their flight, participants must fill out a self-assessment form that asks whether they’ve experienced any coronavirus symptoms in recent days. 

When the coronavirus pandemic hit the United States last year, the network canceled trips through April 2020 and later extended the cancellations through June, then August. Eventually, the board of directors that governs the network decided to end all trips through 2020 because of the ongoing risks.  

The Honor Flight Network didn’t want to take risks, particularly because it serves a vulnerable population of veterans, the group said. Priority for the flights is often given to terminally ill and older veterans, many of whom live in nursing homes.  

Typically, the network transports about 20,000 veterans to Washington each year. Once travel resumes, the group is expected to reach the milestone of providing 250,000 trips to veterans in the 16 years since Honor Flight was founded. 

wentling.nikki@tripes.com 

Twitter: @nikkiwentling  

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