Jerrold Epstein

Profile Updated: January 12, 2023
Residing In Alexandria, VA USA
Occupation Dentist - Retired in 2020

Since I retired from practicing dentistry, I have been passionate about working with Honor Flight Chicago. I am one of their DC Volunteer Coordinators, and we ae always looking for “loving, helpful people” to volunteer as guardians-for-a-day during their veterans’ visit to Washington, DC.

Honor Flight Chicago is part of the national Honor Flight Network, which comprises approximately 125 not-for-profit organizations, or hubs, across the country, who share the name Honor Flight, as well as a common mission and practices. That mission is to Honor, Thank, and Inspire by building awareness and appreciation of the debt of gratitude America owes its veterans.

The centerpiece of the program is the actual “Honor Flight”, in which they escort senior war heroes to Washington, D.C. for a Day of Honor at the memorials built in tribute to their service. This trip is provided at no cost to the veteran and is intended as a heartfelt thank you for their service and sacrifice from a grateful nation. Top priority for the Honor Flight is given to the most-senior veterans: those who served in WWII, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. Flight selection is based on the chronology of those wars, satisfying medical requirements for travel, and the date at which a veteran’s application is received by Honor Flight Chicago.

As of 2022, we have flown 106 missions with a total of almost 10,000 veterans. With the welcomed support of generous donors and a caring public, Honor Flight Chicago intends to continue its mission to include veterans of wars – past, present, and future – as they recognize the bravery, determination, and patriotism of our veterans.

Honor Flight Chicago is the largest hub in the Honor Flight Network, having flown more veterans than any other hub in the country. Honor Flight Chicago sets the standards for many of the best practices used nationwide.

In a normal year, Honor Flight Chicago flies once per month on Wednesdays from April through October. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic the flights were on hold during 2020 and the beginning of 2021. Flights were able to resume in August of 2021.

Central to the success of this effort is the utilization of local guardians. Honor Flight Chicago is a bit different from other hubs in that they ask for most of the Guardian Volunteers to come from the DC area, allowing the majority of the 175 seats on the plane to be used for the veterans, and not volunteers. This means that they are in need of 80 -100 volunteers from around DC for each flight.

Each veteran is assigned their own guardian for the entire day. The guardian is responsible for that veteran’s well-being and comfort. Over the course of the day they will escort their veteran to the Iwo-Jima, Air Force, WWII, Korean War, and Vietnam Veterans Memorials, as well as the Lincoln Memorial and the Udvar-Hazy Air and Space Museum. The guardian will ensure the veteran takes what, if any, medications he needs; make sure the veteran stays hydrated and eats the provided meals on the trip; and will also aid in the veteran’s touring the memorials. The veteran is never left unescorted, and may need to be assisted with a wheelchair. The safety of the veteran is the main priority.

In the course of the day, the volunteer will learn about their veteran and probably develop a close bond with them. Many vets tell stories of their experiences to their guardian that they have not told to anyone since their time in service. The guardian also preserves the memories of the day for their veteran by taking photos along the way.

As a guardian, you must be available for the entire day, from 8:15am to 7:30pm.
You meet the plane at Dulles Airport and ride chartered buses from there to the various memorials. It is the most tiring day you will ever spend. It is the most gratifying day you will ever spend. Jerrold signed up to be a guardian for one flight, and when that was over, came home and cleared his schedule for all upcoming flights, and eventually volunteered to help behind the scenes with the volunteers. It is the most rewarding experience he has ever had.

Please consider helping Honor Flight Chicago, who is looking for more “loving, helpful people” to help them on their mission to provide the best day possible for their senior war veterans’ long overdue day of honor here in the Nation’s Capital.

If you would like to join them as their mission continues, please contact me at to be included in future notifications.

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