Hudson Valley Honor Flight, with the support of the Orange County American Legion Committee and the Orange County American Legion Riders, will initiate a program in 2024 to identify, vet, and fund youth guardians on Honor Flights. The youths chosen will escort Vietnam-era and other veterans on Hudson Valley Honor Flights.
The youth guardian program will give participants the opportunity to meet local veterans and hear their stories, “to help the passing of the baton of leadership from one generation of Americans to the next,” the organizers explained.
The program has two components: the identification, vetting and selection, and preparation of youth guardians; and fundraising to cover the costs of each youth guardian.
There are two types of youth guardians: high school seniors and young veterans. High school seniors must be members of established programs and clubs endorsed by their organizations and schools and vetted by the American Legion. These will include membership to the Junior ROTC, boy and girl scouts, National Honor Society, Interact (Rotary), Leos (Lions), Kiwanis, and other established youth clubs that operate within the school system. Young veterans must be current members of active, guard, or reserve military commands or veterans under the age of 40 who are serving or have served honorably.
Starting in the spring of 2024, each Honor Flight leaving from the airport will have 10 youth guardians – five each high school seniors and five young veterans. Participants will be required to attend a guardian training session prior to participating.
In addition to completing the youth guardian application form, applicants must provide the following: a short resume of no more than two pages, including but not exclusive to their military and/or community service and school achievements; an essay of no more than 250 words on why they wish to be a guardian; and letters of endorsement from club advisors, teachers or school administrators, commanding officers, etc. as appropriate to youth guardian type.
The next Honor Flight is slated to take place in early April of 2024 from Stewart International Airport, with at least two additional trips expected later that year.
For questions, contact Christopher Holshek, secretary for OC Legion Riders, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 845-800-6880, or Carol Smith, vice chair of Hudson Valley Honor Flight, at email@example.com or 845-568-7048.