Local WWII veterans to be honored Monday

Tue, 04/28/2009 - 3:24pm
By: The Citizen

Group will be escorted to WWII memorial in Washington, D.C.

Approximately 70 local World War II veterans are excitedly preparing for a flight to the nation's capitol on May 4th for a once-in-a-lifetime trip. “To Honor. To Cure.,” a partnership between Honor Flight Network and Theragenics Corporation, will ensure that they receive the tribute they deserve and the opportunity to visit the National WWII Memorial in Washington, DC — their monument — at no cost to the veteran.

It will be a long, emotional and rewarding day for these heroes. They will gather at Fayetteville First United Methodist Church at 5:30 in the morning and return late that evening. Guardians, who pay their own way, will accompany the veterans to ensure their comfort and safety throughout the day. In some cases, the guardian is a family member of the veteran; in other instances, a member of the community has stepped forward to act in this role and participate in honoring America’s WWII veterans. One guardian on this flight is Jack Griffeth, M.D., Radiation Oncologist, North Georgia Medical Center, who treats patients with prostate cancer.

“I have family members who served in World War II including my Dad who served in the Pacific Theater, and this flight serves two special purposes for me,” Dr. Griffeth said. “I’m able to pay homage to the noble men and women who so proudly served and protected our country. I’m also able to help spread the important message of knowing the options to treat and cure prostate cancer.”

The day will be filled with reminiscing, reacquainting, and making new friends and memories. Eric Haney (CSM retired) will represent Theragenics on the flight as the spokesperson for the company’s prostate cancer patient education program. He served in some of the Army’s most demanding combat units: as a combat infantryman, a ranger and as an early operational member of Delta Force. Haney is participating in “To Honor. To Cure.” because he saw first hand how prostate cancer affected some of his personal friends and, because they were screened and their cancer was detected early, they realized a positive outcome. Haney believes heightened awareness of prostate cancer will encourage men to get checked early since early detection typically offers the best success rate.

Theragenics has donated $10,000 to Honor Flight Fayette, as well as nine other national hubs in the Honor Flight Network, to bring tribute to our WWII veterans and allow them to travel to Washington D.C. to see their monument. , said.

“But our involvement goes further – to their health,” said M. Christine Jacobs, Theragenics Chairman and CEO. “We strongly encourage these men and other men in their families, to get checked and, if faced with an unfortunate diagnosis of prostate cancer, to research and know their options for treatment.”

Haney’s timing in becoming a spokesperson has some urgency to it. Last year, the University of California-Davis Cancer Center released findings that, when compared to other populations, those who served in Vietnam are twice as likely to develop prostate cancer, are four times as likely to develop more aggressive forms and are likely to be diagnosed 2 and a half years younger than veterans who weren’t exposed to Agent Orange.

Haney will encourage men to become active in the care of their own health, go to the doctor regularly and know their treatment options for prostate cancer, including brachytherapy or seed therapy. Theragenics Corporation manufactures TheraSeed, the most commonly used palladium-103 seed in brachytherapy, a leading, non-invasive treatment for prostate cancer. Haney will blog about his experiences at www.tohonortocure.com aboard the flights as well as at speaking engagements scheduled with key veteran’s organizations.

The Honor Flight Network was founded in May 2005 by Earl Morse. Based on 2008 statistics, we are losing WWII veterans at the rate of approximately 1,000 per day because of their senior age. The network www.honorflight.org hopes to have transported 25,000 WWII veterans by the end of this year. Honor Flight Fayette plans to have taken about 350 members of the "greatest generation" in 2008-2009 as a small way of thanking them for making our way of life today possible.

To be placed on the list as a veteran, guardian or volunteer or to make a donation, visit www.honorflightfayette.org or call 770-719-1024.

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