June 07, 2023
176 veterans on eight buses.
800 miles to Washington, D.C., and safely back to Illinois.
Since 2010, VetsRoll has coordinated bus trips to the nation’s capital so that military veterans, especially from the World War II and Korean War eras, have the chance to see the memorials that have been erected in their honor.
Fire Dept. Coffee was thrilled to play a small role in the success of the recent trip, having helped coordinate the sponsorship of eight automated external defibrillators (AEDs) so that the VetsRoll team could be prepared in case of a medical emergency.
Trey Taylor is a captain with the Beloit Fire Department, just north of our headquarters in Rockford. He’s also on the board of directors at VetsRoll. Prior to the May trip, he contacted Chad Callison of AED Essentials to get a price quote on defibrillators.
Callison is also a firefighter in the city of Rockford, along with Fire Dept. Coffee’s Randy James. The two agreed that VetsRoll shouldn’t have to pay for their AEDs.
"We reached out to friends at ZOLL Medical who jumped at the chance to support these veterans and VetsRoll,” Randy said. “ZOLL's commitment means so much in terms of protecting these heroes on this journey and keeping them safe. We can't thank them enough."
ZOLL loaned VetsRoll eight AEDs for the trip and plans to sponsor new AEDs for future trips.
“Each one of our eight buses carried 22 veterans,” Taylor said. “With that many veterans, we like to have one AED on each bus because we’re traveling separately and you never know when we’re going to need it. Knock on wood, we haven’t had to use one yet but we don’t want to go without them.”
The veterans typically range in age from late 70s to 100 years old. This year, the oldest participant was a former Rosie the Riveter, now 97 years old.
The caravan of buses left Sunday, May 20, and the first stop was the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force at Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio, where they could see U.S. military aircraft spanning the generations.
By Day 3, the veterans had arrived in the Washington, D.C., area. They packed a lot of sights and a lot of experiences into their brief visit. Destinations included the World War II Memorial, the Korean War Memorial and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
Crossing into Virginia, they saw the Marine Corps Memorial with its famous depiction of the flag-raising at Iwo Jima. And they visited Arlington National Cemetery, where they witnessed the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
“Our mission is to provide Closure, Gratitude and Respect for our veterans,” Taylor said.
In addition to the veterans, the traveling party included 135 assistants, who paid their own way to be a part of the trip. Of that number, 27 were medical professionals with a range of roles including EMT, paramedic, physician’s assistant, physical therapist, pharmacist, nurse and nurse practitioner.
“Our veterans have earned this trip,” Taylor said. “We want to make it special for them. And we always want to be prepared. On the medical side, it’s incredible what we have and what we can do for our veterans.”
Anyone interested in participating in a future trip or supporting the VetsRoll mission can learn more on their website at VetsRoll.org.
Comments will be approved before showing up.
SUPPORT OUR MISSION AND FOLLOW OUR JOURNEY
© 2024 Fire Department Coffee, Inc.