Every Veteran participating in an Honor Flight is assigned a Guardian for the day. Most often, the Guardian is a family member, friend, or volunteer from the Veteran’s home city who accompanies the Veteran on the plane. Occasionally, however, some Honor Flight hubs request some DC-based Guardians to accompany Veterans throughout their day here.
Serving as a D.C.-based Guardian is a rewarding experience and a great responsibility. Guardians are expected to meet the Honor Flight at the airport gate upon arrival, spend the entire day with their assigned Veteran on the bus and at every stop along the way, and return with the group to the gate for departure. From the moment the Veterans are in our hands until we return them to their loved ones in the evening, Guardians will be asked to treat these heroes as if they are family and ensure that every Veteran has a safe, memorable, and rewarding experience.
Some Honor Flight hubs request volunteers to serve as Floaters. A Floater functions much in the same way as a Guardian; however, he or she is not assigned to one specific Veteran. They help ensure the safety and efficient movement of the group as a whole. Please be advised that if you volunteer as a Guardian, you might be asked to serve as a Floater instead, depending on the needs of the hub.
Qualifications of Guardians/Floaters:
* Must be between the ages of 18 and 65
* Must be trained by the DCA Ground Crew
* Must be physically fit enough to walk up to 3 miles throughout the day, lift 100 pounds with assistance, and push a wheelchair carrying a Veteran throughout the day;
* Must follow all the instructions from the Hub Leader and the Bus Captains;
* Must work effectively as a team member with other volunteers;
* Must be attentive to the surroundings and the location and needs of all the Veterans without distraction.
- Once trained, Guardians will be added to our DCA Guardians Database.
- When we receive a request from an incoming Honor Flight to provide local guardians, we will send an email to everyone in the database. The opportunities will also be listed on our website under Upcoming Trainings and Guardian Opportunities. Note: Only select hubs use local guardians. Many of the flights you will find listed on our schedule on this website will NOT be in need of guardians. Please wait for an email requesting guardians or for a posting on the Upcoming Trainings and Guardian Opportunities section of this website before volunteering to serve as a guardian for a flight.
- Guardians will be assigned to each Honor Flight on a first-come-first-served basis. You will receive confirmation via email of your assignment. More detailed instructions will be emailed to you in the weeks and days prior to flight day, with specifics about your particular Honor Flight.
- Important: If you are assigned to serve as a Guardian for an Honor Flight, it is absolutely crucial that you honor this commitment unless an emergency or illness arises. No-shows will result in the group being short-handed for the entire day and the Veterans being without the assistance they require. Any Guardian who fails to show up without prior notification will be removed from the database.
- If an emergency or illness does arise and you cannot fulfill your volunteer duty, please email Laura at firstname.lastname@example.org immediately so there is time to find a replacement. Our elderly Veterans are particularly susceptible to infections, and even a usually mild virus can be very dangerous for them, so prudence and caution is always advised.
Helpful Hints for Guardians/Floaters
*Wear comfortable shoes!
*Pitch in to help as needed: open water bottles, take photos, load/lock wheelchairs, etc.
*Be especially alert to any potential hazards, such as curbs or slippery surfaces.
*Encourage the Veterans to drink plenty of water and use sunscreen, if necessary.
*Keep your gate access pass (GAP) with you for the day – you will need it for TSA re-entry at the end of the day.