Helping Vets Heal Since 1988
|In cooperation with The Arizona Vet Centers|
Operation Freedom Bird provides a unique healing journey to Arizona's combat Veterans of all wars, giving them an opportunity to confront their feelings, share their experiences, and pay tribute to their fallen comrades-in-arms in a supportive environment of fellow Veterans and concerned counselors.
Founded by America West Captain Pat Lynch a decorated Vietnam Veteran, and named after the Freedom Bird flights that transported soldiers back to the United States after their tour of duty in a war zone. Pat's original vision was to reach out to fellow Nam Veterans and visit the Wall on Veterans Day. Through sharing the experiences and confronting their feelings, these warriors can pay tribute to their fallen comrades and seek closure to their own emotional war wounds.
The program was successful beyond original expectations under the wing of America West Airlines and the Phoenix Veteran Center for 10 years. In 1998 Operation Freedom Bird was formed as an Arizona non-profit corporation and granted tax-exempt status by the IRS as a 501(c) (3) organization. In 1999 Southwest Airlines signed on as the new airline sponsor and the program continues to flourish. From the original concept of taking Vietnam Veterans the program has expanded to include Veterans of all conflicts.
The Arizona Vet Centers play an important role in the selection of those Veterans who have prepared themselves to make this journey. The culturally diverse candidates from all walks of life are receiving ongoing treatment for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) a result of service for our country. Representatives of the Arizona Vet Centers join the Veterans in Washington DC to provide counseling, leadership and emotional support.
Each year, since 1988, approximately 50 Veterans have been selected to participate in a four-day Healing Journey on Veterans Day and visit the War Memorials in Washington D.C. Participants are selected by Vet Center counselors throughout Arizona who also accompany the Veterans on their journey. In addition to several visits to the National Mall, location of the war memorials, the program itinerary includes a trip to Arlington National Cemetery, the Iwo Jima Memorial, and the 9-11 Memorial located at the Pentagon.
Operation Freedom Bird is funded entirely through tax-deductible individual, group, and corporate donations. No government money is provided. The all-volunteer staff ensures overhead expenses are kept minimal.
Operation Freedom Bird underwrites all meals, lodging, and ground transportation expenses for the veterans and counselors. Southwest Airlines has generously provided air transportation since 1999.
As citizens, Operation Freedom Bird provides us a way to recognize the service of these Veterans by thanking them, acknowledging them for their service and personal sacrifice, and finally, welcoming them home. They have given their all for us, and all we ask is that you thank them with your support
May 17, 2012 1st Annual East Golf Tournament
September 21, 2012 Hero's Breakfast
October 6, 2012 9th Annual West Golf Tournament
November 11, 2012 VETERANS DAY
November 12, 2012 Welcome Home
Pat Lynch, Founder Operation Freedom Bird
Operation Freedom Bird 2011
John Glenn, November 2011
Veterans Day Honors 2011
Iwo Jima Memorial, Washington D.C.