Medical Transport Program To Promote Hope And Healing For Iraqi And Afghan Veterans And Their Families
At a recent news conference, Edward R. Boyer, CEO and president of Mercy Medical Airlift, announced the implementation and benefits of Air Compassion for Veterans (ACV). ACV was created to arrange and provide free air transportation for veterans and families, including air ambulance and commercial airline flights related to medical and support needs. It is supported by the Iraq Afghanistan Deployment Impact Fund of the California Community Foundation.
The program works cooperatively with related programs of the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs. ACV also cooperates with the Heroes Miles Program of the Fisher House Foundation.
Boyer said ACV has flown 12 missions since the first flight on November 20, 2006. Besides flights related to medical needs, the service includes travel for counseling, support groups, homecomings, funerals, and job training "to aid in reintegration of troops, veterans, their families and loved ones affected by the military deployment." Boyer said he is seeking other philanthropic funding sources to expand the program to include older veterans of other wars.
The compelling first flight of Air Compassion for Veterans illustrates the program's impact in life and death situations. A 2 1/2 year-old boy named Alex Searles was beaten and abused while his father, Jason, a Marine sergeant, was in Iraq. The child's mother had met a man on the Internet and developed a relationship with him, then went to Texas, taking Alex and his eight-month-old sister Ashleigh with them.
When the boy had difficulty breathing and wouldn't stop crying, the couple took him to the hospital and were then arrested and jailed for injury to a child. Alex's grandparents, Bill and Sherry Searles, flew to Lubbock, Texas, from their home in Melbourne, Florida, to get temporary custody and make travel arrangements for Alex. Bill learned about the ACV program through a friend and was able to schedule a medical flight on a Learjet to Florida.
Mercy Medical Airlift
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