Coming Together for a Cause: NATA’s Air Charter Summit and Veterans Airlift Command

What is “home” to you? Is it a place – coordinates on a map – or is it a person, a thought, a feeling? Imagine you were injured serving our country and needed specialized medical treatment far from “home.” What would it mean to you then?

The National Air Transportation Association (NATA) is once again holding a special dinner and raffle to raise funds for the Veterans Airlift Command (VAC) at the upcoming NATA Air Charter Summit, to be held June 16-18 at the Washington Dulles Marriott in Virginia. VAC is a charitable organization that provides free air transportation to wounded warriors, veterans, and their families for medical and other compassionate purposes.

Too many young men and women are returning from Iraq, Afghanistan, and other war-torn regions injured and in need of medical care. For many of our wounded warriors, that means lengthy or recurring medical treatments far from home and the love of their family and friends. No person should have to endure such medical treatments away from their loved ones, but men and women who have served our country especially deserve our compassion and care. Can you imagine undergoing treatment at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, DC, and being physically unable to withstand the trials of a commercial airline flight to go home to see your mother, spouse, or children? This is the everyday reality for many wounded soldiers.

I support VAC first and foremost because I believe in its mission – providing transportation to wounded warriors. But I also support VAC because it is a very fiscally lean organization. It relies almost entirely on a list of loyal volunteer pilots and gracious aircraft owners. The organization’s goal is to turn each dollar donated to VAC into at least ten dollars of air transportation. This means your monetary donation goes to support VAC’s mission and isn’t lost in some questionable “administrative” budget category. Donations of aircraft hours are even more critical, as they provide direct benefit to injured soldiers. No matter how you choose to contribute to VAC, you should know that the VAC leadership is a respectful and considerate steward of VAC resources.

The Summit’s annual dinner and fundraising raffle (which somehow always turns into this magical, impromptu “auction”, raising more money for VAC than anyone originally anticipated) has become one of my favorite industry events. Put over a hundred passionate aviation folks, an open bar, good food, and an incredible cause together and you wouldn’t believe the fun we have and the positive impact we can make for people who are so incredibly deserving of our respect, compassion, and care. If you can’t make it to the Summit this year, I encourage you to plan to attend next year. And in the meantime, learn more about VAC and how to contribute to this great organization. 

See you at the Summit!

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