Veteran visits to DC difficult with shutdown

Honor Flights help veterans make trip to Washington; Phil Sovetnick shares his visit

MIAMI - A South Florida veteran who served in World War II shared his story about a special trip he took to Washington, D.C., but because of the government shutdown, other veterans may not be able to do the same.

Phil Sovetnick grew up in Philadelphia, served in the army, and married the love of his life.

"I brought home the most beautiful black tray with a mother of pearl insert," said Sovetnick.

A few weeks ago, Sovetnick paid a visit to the National World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. as part of an Honor Flight.

"We were greeted by hundreds -- not 100 -- hundreds of Washington people, shaking your hands and thanking you for your service, and some leaned over and kissed you and hugged you. It was such an emotional greeting it was unbelievable," said Sovetnick.

The non-profit covers the costs for veterans to see the memorials of the wars they fought in. However, as a result of the government shutdown, the visits have proved difficult because of park closures.

"A thousand veterans die each day and so it's really time sensitive and for the veterans to be able to see their memorials," said Ashton Charles, a guardian with Honor Flight.

Charles is organizing the first flight for the South Florida chapter. The trip later this month could be in jeopardy if the government remains closed.

"In many cases, we charter complete planes to go up there and these are set flights, and with so much planning and preparation, you really can't adjust in terms of making it a different day in light of everything that is going on," she said.

Sovetnick said it breaks his heart to think that fellow veterans may not be able to experience the journey. At 90 years old, he's one of the younger guys who fought for their country so many decades ago.

"It's something that they can't imagine it unless they went there physically to see it and it's so important," said Sovetnick. "I think these Honor Flights are a marvelous, marvelous thing."

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