Upland Hills Health Physician McGraw Joins Area Resident Phil Wyse on Honor Flight #48

“This is an important journey for our military heroes” 

For military veteran and Platteville resident Phil Wyse, the opportunity to experience the war memorials in Washington, DC with his son, Wade was a memorable and transformative journey.

The elder Wyse served during the Viet Nam war and was stationed in Germany. A medic by training, he served as an occupational therapist in a hospital in Landstuhl. Wyse retired from UW-Platteville, where he served as the Director of Pioneer Farm.

Wyse said he decided to sign up for Honor Flight because he wanted the experience of being with other veterans to connect and share their experience as they paid honor to past veterans.

“There was the emotional aspect for all the veterans, not to mention just physically being there,” Wyse said. “It was therapy for some, for others it was just a wonderful experience. Everyone was very receptive and encouraging to all the veterans.”

What made it even more rewarding was that his son, Wade, was his companion on the trip.

“It was very special to me that my son joined me. He is inquisitive about my past and what it was like to be in the military. It was rewarding to share that with him,” according to Wyse.

Wyse’s advice to other veterans: If you would like to go, please do because this is a rewarding experience.

There are many volunteers on the flight, including people like Dr. Jodi McGraw, an army veteran and physician at Upland Hills Health, who served as medical director for Wyse’s Honor Flight. Dr. McGraw joined 92 military veterans: 4 from the Korean War; 87 who served in Viet Nam; and one person from the post-Vietnam era, on Honor Flight #48.

“I can’t begin to tell you how humbled and honored I was to be able to accompany the veterans and be there to help them if they needed it,” Dr. McGraw said upon her return. “For some of our vets, having physician and other medical personnel along on the trip made the difference between them being able to make the journey and never seeing the memorials that were built in their honor.”

The flight initiated in Madison bound for Reagan National Airport in Washington, DC.

“The send-off in Madison was incredible. Throngs of supporters were in the ticketing area to cheer on the departing veterans, holding banners. Even people in the airport checking in for other flights were applauding and showing their excitement at being there at just the right moment to honor our veterans,” according to Dr. McGraw.

Upon entering the plane, the veterans and their chaperones were met with red, white and blue decorations that the flight attendants had thoughtfully added to make the flight even more special. When they disembarked in Washington DC, a band was playing patriotic songs and greeters were waving flags and applauding them as they left the airport.

Those on the Honor Flight visited many of the memorials in Washington, DC. As they experienced seeing the memorials for the first time, some were visibly moved and emotional, others welled up with tears remembering the past and their fellow soldiers and friends who didn’t make it home.

“You can feel their pain, but compassion takes it to the next level of doing something about it. This really did take it to the next level. We can all make a difference through compassion and caring,” Dr. McGraw said. “When soldiers come home, we need to make that return a special part of not only their healing, but in the healing of our country. When we have been through difficult times the best healing is compassion.”

Dr. McGraw urges all veterans to sign up for Badger Honor Flight with a companion.

“Just seeing them on a healing journey…to have that hero’s welcome as an affirmation that we appreciate their sacrifice, which is the most touching part of this story,” Dr. McGraw said. “It was special and amazing. Anyone who has served and is qualified to fly should go. For medical people, it is such an honor to spend the day flying and touring with them and seeing our vets receive the appreciation they so richly deserve.”

For more information on how to apply for a flight as a veteran, companion, or volunteer visit badgerhonorflight.org.

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