Loyola University Chicago

Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing

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Loyola nursing alum cares for veterans on Honor Flight

Encourages other health-care professionals to help nation’s heroes

MAYWOOD, Ill.  – Loyola University Chicago Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing alumnus Daria Ruffolo, DNP ’12, MSN ’97, RN, CCRN, ACNP-BC, recently traveled to Washington, DC, on the Honor Flight with 92 veterans.

The Honor Flight pays tribute to Chicago area World War II veterans by flying them on an all-expense-paid trip to Washington, DC, for a day of recognition, remembrance and celebration.

A former patient encouraged Ruffolo, currently practicing at Loyola University Health System, to get involved in the trip. She agreed and joined eight other guardians who were responsible for the health care of the veterans throughout the day. The medical and nursing team looked for signs of weakness, dehydration, hypoglycemia and fall risks. Six of the participants also required oxygen, many were insulin-dependent diabetics, several were wheelchair-bound and one man was blind.

“The Honor Flight was one of the most remarkable experiences I have had as a nurse,” Ruffolo said. “It was a privilege to be involved with a team who is committed to providing our veterans – our national treasures – with a wonderful day.”

The trip included a water cannon salute on arrival in Washington. Government officials, an honor guard salute, a performance by the Naval Rifle Artillery team and hundreds of well-wishers also greeted veterans. They then toured the World War II and other memorials before returning to Chicago. Upon arrival, they were greeted by a battalion of Chicago police and firemen at full salute, nearly 3,000 family members and friends, bagpipers and the great Lakes Naval Honor Guard.

“I recommend that anyone sign up as either a general or medical guardian to care for a veteran,” Ruffolo said. “Spending the day serving our nation’s heroes is a life-changing experience.”

This was the 60th Honor Flight. Each flight requires 1,200 working hours and more than $600 per veteran. There are an estimated 25,000 World War II veterans living in the Chicago area. The Honor Flight’s goal is to give each of them an opportunity to travel to our nation’s capital. For more information on the Honor Flight, visit www.honorflightchicago.org.