Dedicated action honors veterans, builds special bonds
Classic and imposing, the Washington, D.C., World War II memorial was dedicated in 2004 to the “Greatest Generation,” 59 years after the war ended. 16,500,000 men and women served during WWII. Fewer than two million are still living today, and the youngest of those are in their eighties. Time is growing short for WWII veterans to visit their memorial in the nation’s capital.
Tiffany Enos and Betty Schleder connected through shared interests to honor these veterans. Tiffany, Community Relations Director at Legacy at Georgetown Assisted Living and Memory Care, learned that Betty speaks about Honor Flight Austin throughout the area, so in 2014 she invited Betty to make a presentation at a marketing breakfast. After hearing Betty’s presentation, Tiffany discovered that two Legacy residents met criteria for the Washington trip. She provided the men with applications and communicated with their families. Betty answered questions for both men, and the Legacy further supported the men and other veterans by hosting a fundraiser, Legacy of Trees. Local groups donated decorated Christmas trees for the auction. All expenses are paid for every veteran making the trip.
Betty, recognized by State Senate Proclamation as Chief Gifting Officer, has worked tirelessly over the past three years raising money for the program. Her efforts brought in $160,000, with $100,000 coming from Sun City. Betty estimates that about 700 area veterans have taken the trip through Honor Flight Austin, with perhaps 200 of those from Williamson County. The highly-organized trips provide red carpet treatment: a commemorative shirt and cap, limousine transport to the airport (compliments of Cook-Walden Funeral Home), “guardians” to assist each veteran, a banquet upon arrival in Washington, and monument sightseeing the next day. Musicians and other volunteers often welcome the veterans at the airports.
Betty was privileged to accompany her husband on his flight. Ben Schleder served over four years in the Navy during WWII and passed away in 2014 at age ninety-two. Tiffany and Betty report that Honor Flight trips open floodgates of memory, and amazing stories pour forth from veterans who say that they just “did their job.”
Perhaps you know someone who would qualify for this special trip. For more information about Honor Flight Austin or to make a donation, go to www.honorflightaustin.org or contact Betty Schleder at email@example.com.
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