Sixty-eight-year-old John Lechowicz of Yorkville, Illinois, is a Vietnam Veteran who served four years as a member of the U.S. Air Force. He is in his final days of life.
Lechowicz wrote to Dream Foundation for help fulfilling his final dream. As selfless as his service was to our nation, so too was his dream. While in Vietnam, Lechowicz saw troops’ bodies removed from cargo planes and later, coffins loaded onto planes to return to the U.S
“I feel that even though I do not know all their names, I would somehow connect with them by just touching the [Vietnam Veterans Memorial] wall,” Lechowicz wrote.
In September, Lechowicz’s dream was fulfilled. He and his friend, caretaker and fellow Vietnam Veteran, Ed Kurz, traveled to Washington, D.C., with the help of Dream Foundation’s Dream for Veterans program and Honor Flight’s Their Last Chance program.
Lechowicz and Kurz visited the National World War II Memorial, Lincoln Memorial and the Korean War Veterans Memorial. Later in the day, they continued their tour visiting the U.S. Capitol, the U.S. Navy Memorial and the Naval Museum. They saw the Marine Corps War Memorial (Iwo Jima Memorial), the U.S Air Force Memorial, and watched the Changing of the Guard at Arlington National Cemetery.
A particularly memorable part of Lechowicz and Kurz’s trip was when both men were honored for their service and presented with Vietnam War Commemoration Pins at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial by James McLaughlin, Honor Flight chairman of the board and a fellow Veteran.
If you served, you can dream
On Veterans Day in 2016, Dream Foundation, the only national dream-granting organization for terminally-ill adults, was honored to enter into a new strategic partnership with VA to improve the lives of Veterans with life-limiting illnesses. The program acknowledges Veterans and honors their service by fulfilling their final Dream, providing them, their families, and caregivers inspiration, comfort, and closure at the end of life. Since its inaugural year in 2014, Dreams for Veterans has fulfilled nearly 400 dreams.
Through our Dreams for Veterans program, Dream Foundation and VA are working closely together to facilitate positive events, provide motivational support and fulfill final dreams for Veterans and their families. In addition, we are connecting to VA hospice care providers and palliative care social workers to offer resources available to address some of the unique needs of Veterans adjusting to end-of life-care.
Dream for Veterans dream recipients are U.S. military Veterans who served from World War II to the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars, those who served during peacetime or who currently serve on active duty, the Reserve and National Guard. Dreams can be as simple as paying a heating bill to relieve financial stress, creating happy memories, meeting a personal hero, reconnecting with aspects of former military life—any request that provides support and compassion.
At Dream Foundation we share the goal of improving Veterans’ lives with VA and we look forward to working together to provide opportunities for our service members that may not otherwise have been available. With this new partnership, we hope to expand our Dreams for Veterans program and work together to fulfill final dreams like John’s.
Dream Foundation, the only national dream-granting organization for terminally-ill adults, fulfills final dreams that provide inspiration, comfort and closure at the end of life. With the support of a nationwide network of volunteers, hospices, health care organizations and committed donors, Dream Foundation has given life to more than 25,000 final dreams over the past two decades and has never turned down a qualified applicant. Dream Foundation does not receive any federal or state funding and relies solely on individual donations and corporate partnerships to fund its programs. The Foundation is proud to maintain Charity Navigator’s four-star rating—its highest—for sound fiscal management ensuring its donors and partners that their investment will be used wisely. For more information, please visit DreamFoundation.org.
About the author: Kisa Heyer is the Dream Foundation’s chief executive officer.