HealthTeam Advantage Employee Helps Veteran Experience Triad Honor Flight

Karen Evans-Stanley waited several years for this moment.

When she started working for HealthTeam Advantage, a local insurance company in Greensboro that offers Medicare Advantage plans, she enjoyed having the opportunity to volunteer in her community. Her favorite experience was helping at the Triad Honor Flight send-off ceremony a few years ago at Piedmont-Triad International Airport (PTI). She remembers getting chills as she watched the local fire department give the veterans a water cannon salute as the plane departed.

“I loved it,” Evans-Stanley says. “It was just so touching – seeing the veterans and how excited they were, and the recognition they were getting.”

Letterman and Evans-Stanley greet well-wishers gathered at the airport after the Triad Honor Flight.

The Triad Honor Flight is a local nonprofit that sends 100 veterans to Washington, D.C., twice a year to see the memorials built to honor veterans. HealthTeam Advantage’s Community Outreach Supervisor, Shelby Kline, serves on the board of the nonprofit and helps ensure that things run smoothly on flight day.

Each veteran brings one guardian on the trip, and that’s where Evans-Stanley comes in. Because most veterans bring a family member as their guardian, there is a waiting list for volunteers. Evans-Stanley added her name to the list two years ago.

Serving Those Who Served

On Wednesday, April 24, she got her chance. Evans-Stanley boarded the Triad Honor Flight with Keith Letterman, who served in the US Navy as a chaplain from 1955 to 1997 (eight years active service, 34 years reserve). He served in Vietnam, Lebanon, Panama, and the Gulf War. Now in his 80s, Letterman is still active in the ministry at Greater Vision Baptist Church in Denton, N.C.

“He’s from Randolph County, where I’m from,” explained Evans-Stanley, who met Letterman at the pre-flight meeting on April 6. Since then, she’s enjoyed getting to know him and his granddaughter Paulette, who lives with him.

“I’ve never been to D.C.,” Evans-Stanley says. “Just being able to see it through his eyes is going to make it a much better experience.”

An Unforgettable Day

The itinerary for the Triad Honor Flight included visits to the Lincoln Memorial, the World War II Memorial, the Korean Memorial, the Vietnam Memorial, and Arlington National Cemetery. Participants arrived at the airport at 6 am to check in, go through security, and attend a send-off ceremony before boarding the American Airlines charter flight. After a full day in Washington, the group flew back to PTI for the welcome home celebration.

Hundreds of friends and family members lined the American Airlines arrival area with flags, balloons, and homemade signs to welcome their veterans home. After departing the plane, participants lined up for a parade by the war they served in. World War II veterans and their guardians led the way to big cheers from the group.

Supporters waved American flags and listened to patriotic music as they waited for the Triad Honor Flight to arrive.

Many veterans seemed taken aback by the number of people waiting to welcome them home, but they quickly shook hands and high-fived their way through the parade route. The sight moved some guardians to tears.

“The welcome home was unbelievable,” Evans-Stanley said.

A Focus on Community

Evans-Stanley has been with HealthTeam Advantage for almost five years, first as a Healthcare Concierge who worked directly with members, and now as a Senior Provider Concierge. In this role, she answers providers’ questions about claims and credentialing, onboards new providers, and does site visits at provider offices.

Evans-Stanley’s director, Bethany Carter, says her enthusiasm is contagious.

“Karen is always the first on our team to jump at a chance to volunteer at any sponsored event in her area,” Carter says. “She has a way with our senior community and connects with them on such a sincere and thoughtful level.”

That enthusiasm was evident as Evans-Stanley and Letterman reached the end of the parade route. “It was fantastic,” she said of the experience. “I’m ready to go again!”