SL VFW Post 8053 Auxiliary – Flights for Wounded Warriors and their families

Sandra Whittenberg

For the past two holiday seasons, the Auxiliary of Sun Lakes VFW Post 8053 has partnered with a Washington, DC charity called Luke’s Wings to bring two wounded warriors from Walter Reed Hospital to their homes in the Phoenix area to spend time with their family. Our VFW Auxiliary paid for the tickets, and Luke’s Wings made all of the arrangements. Often times, the trips go in the opposite direction. Family members are flown from their home to Walter Reed to be with their wounded warrior who is unable to travel.

Luke’s Wings is a fully tax deductible 501(c)3 non-profit corporation; employee identification No. 26-1691195. They were founded in January of 2008 by a group of young people who observed the struggles of our wounded warriors at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Luke’s Wings was named after two people, Luke Shirley (a wounded warrior at Walter Reed who lost an arm and a leg in an IED blast) and Sarah Wingfield, a Redskins Cheerleader Ambassador who was visiting the troops at Walter Reed in May, 2007 when she met Luke … ergo, “Luke’s Wings.”

It was immediately obvious to the Luke’s Wings founders, as well as their social network, that our wounded warriors were the most deserving group of Americans in immediate need of travel tickets and travel planning services. Bottom line – having family on site and by their bedsides during their long and difficult recovery and endless surgeries is mission critical. Having family and loved ones by their bedsides helps pass the time but also boosts their spirits and, in the most extreme cases, helps alleviate depression and reduce the risk of suicide.

From January 2008 through 2011, Luke’s Wings was run and operated as a strictly volunteer-based charity. There were no salaries. There was no office space. Operating expenses were kept to a minimum. Material expenses were limited to fundraising activities and flights for our wounded warriors and their families. Between 2008 and 2012, Luke’s Wings grew and grew. Between 2008 and 2012, most of the funding came from fundraising events and individual donations. As the organization grows, so does the strategy. From 2012 forward, Luke’s Wings has developed a long-term relationship with corporate America. Luke’s Wings is committed to maintaining a clear and obvious mission: To provide travel tickets and travel planning services for wounded warriors and their families. This is what they do … and they are excellent at it! They can, and often do, book the next flight out. Providing families with travel to see their wounded warrior or, if able, sending the warrior home for a visit is Luke’s Wings only mission.

There are many ways to contribute to the lives of our nation’s heroes. Simply select the best way to contribute below and help Luke’s Wings transport a loving family to the bedside of a Wounded Warrior or Veteran in hospice care: Online donation of money or airline miles; mail donations; phone donations; corporate sponsorships; donate as a government employee. To get the details for each kind of donation, to learn about their many corporate partners or to get more information, go to the Luke’s Wings website at

Interested in VFW Auxiliary? Contact Janice Cournoyer, Auxiliary President, at [email protected]