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World War II Vets Visit D.C. Memorial Through Efforts by DSS, Inc., S.E. Florida Honor Flight and Local Community

As part of the Honor Flight Network, a non-profit organization that facilitates trips for veterans to visit their respective memorials, DSS, Inc., in collaboration with the Southeast Florida Honor Flight chapter, West Palm Beach VA and local community raised money and coordinated details so that 27 World War II veterans could fly to Washington, D.C., in November to visit the WWII Memorial.

Honor Flight Network was created to honor America's veterans for the sacrifices they made on behalf of the country. The organization has local chapters that work within communities nationwide to coordinate free, day-long trips for America’s veterans to visit Washington, D.C., and reflect at their memorials. Top priority is given to World War II survivors along with other veterans who may be terminally ill. In addition to providing flights, transportation and meals for the day, volunteer guardians are also appointed to the veterans to assist them during the trip.

“When these vets come together for this one-day, whirlwind trip, they’re like 21 year olds again – even though they are in their eighties – bonding and reminiscing about their experiences together,” said Bob Pedraza, manager of partner relations at DSS and a guardian on the trip. “Accompanying them on this emotional journey and seeing the overwhelming support they receive from crowds, airport staff and everyone you encounter along the way is an indescribable, moving experience that stays with you forever.”

Four DSS employees, one of whom is a disabled veteran, were chosen to act as guardians during the November Honor Flight. DSS employees also worked with the community to raise funds for the November flight by sponsoring a local charity poker night and other events. More than 50 DSS employees worked the charity poker night, which was hosted at Duffy’s Sports Grill. The event raised more than $3,000.

For the November 7 flight, the veterans started the day early in the morning with breakfast and a send off at the West Palm Beach VA. Following, a motorcycle and police escort took them to the airport where they were ushered through a special airport security check point with TSA employees in full uniform accompanied by an honor guard. As the group touched down in D.C., the plane flew under a water canon archway, and a full brass band as well as many other fellow veterans welcomed the Honor Flight participants. After spending time at the WWII Memorial and visiting the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the group returned to the airport for the flight home.

“As a company heavily involved with veterans through our work with the VistA electronic health record system, we’ve wanted to be a part of Honor Flight for some time so that we can show our gratitude to service men and women,” said Mark Byers, president and CEO of DSS as well as a guardian on the trip. “As our company has grown and expanded, we are excited that we now have the resources to be involved from a financial and volunteer perspective. It’s our goal to make Honor Flight an ongoing initiative within DSS through volunteerism and funding for years to come.”

DSS is currently working with the Southeast Florida Honor Flight to coordinate a spring Honor Flight. The group hopes to raise enough money to charter an entire plane so that it can accommodate as many veterans as possible. There are already 200 veterans on the waiting list for the next trip. A pig roast at the Fort Pierce American Legion Chapter 40 in January will be the first fundraiser for the upcoming flight.

DSS is also working with the local community to start a satellite Honor Flight chapter in Palm Beach County that will support the Southeast Florida Honor Flight hub. To learn more about the November flight and veterans who were part of it, visit www.dssinc.com/HonorFlight3.html.

About DSS, Inc.

DSS, Inc., a 20 year old company that specializes in healthcare IT solutions that enhance open source EHRs, develops and supplies integrated enhancements to the Veterans Affairs VistA system. The organization also designs products that are compatible with the Indian Health Services RPMS and the Department of Defense’s healthcare systems.

DSS will release vxVistA this winter as open source under the Eclipse Public License (www.openhealthtools.org) to meet the needs of non-government users. The company also offers add-on products including behavioral health, clinical decision support, dental electronic records, document imaging and revenue cycle solutions. For more information on DSS, Inc., visit www.dssinc.com.

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