May 26, 2020

While Veterans Airlift Command (VAC) has been flying throughout the COVID-19 crisis, trip requests dropped in April, and the nonprofit group is now preparing for surge in demand. VAC provides free transportation – often to medical care – for post-9/11 combat wounded and their families.

Many veterans who intended to fly for non-emergency medical treatment had their appointments cancelled. As hospitals open once again for elective and non-emergent care, VAC’s trip requests are increasing.

In the coming months, Executive Director Jen Salvati expects VAC to be busier than ever due to unpredictable airline schedules and increased risk of infection for some immuno-compromised veterans.

“We expect demand to skyrocket. All of those trips for medical care that were postponed in March and April will be rescheduled soon,” said Salvati. “Our short-term priority is to help veterans get to those medical appointments that were cancelled.”

In what might seem a counterintuitive move, considering the likely increase in demand for its missions, VAC postponed its annual Hero Flight event, the organization’s biggest fundraiser, until 2021.

The reason for this decision speaks volumes about the organization’s values and culture.

“We do not want our sponsors and donors to feel any angst about supporting the VAC, if unable, while enduring difficult financial circumstances,” VAC Chairman, CEO and Founder Walt Fricke explained in a statement to supporters. “We want to encourage you to look after yourselves, stay healthy and focus on your critical objectives so you are able to rejoin us in 2021 if able.”