An organization that began as a small group of volunteer pilots and grew into an operation that transports more than 20,000 veterans per year to reunion tours in Washington is postponing all trips through the end of May.

The Honor Flight Network, which has taken nearly a quarter-million veterans to the nation’s capital since 2005, made the announcement in response to continued concerns of the coronavirus pandemic, or COVID-19.

Many of the participants attending tours through the Honor Flight Network are veterans of World War II, the Korean War, and Vietnam, demographics that have been hit especially hard by the virus and remain at the greatest risk for contracting and spreading serious cases, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Veterans who have been wounded in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan have also participated.

The organization acknowledged that a number of those veterans live in “community settings, such as retirement homes or assisted living facilities, where the risk of spreading illness is extremely high,” the company’s release said.

“Honor Flight trips are often a once in a lifetime opportunity for America’s veterans, so the organization does its best to keep all trips on time and on schedule,” the release said. “At the same time, Honor Flight’s highest priority during trips is to maintain the veterans’ safety.”

The organization plans to monitor the ongoing situation to determine whether any additional suspensions are warranted, the release said.

Veterans with questions are encouraged to contact their nearest Honor Flight hub. Additional information can be found on the organization’s website.

Jon Simkins is a writer and editor for Military Times, and a USMC veteran.

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