Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, six Battlefield Return commemorations have been cancelled this year. A trip was planned to Hawaii with 20 WWII Pacific Veterans that were set to travel to commemorate the end of WWII at Pearl Harbor in September. With a chartered flight ready to go and the approval from the Governor, Admiral to the Navy and Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, the trip was ultimately cancelled six days out due to an uptick in COVID cases. “When things get cancelled, it just breaks the hearts of the veterans and takes all the air out of the sails for them and that’s not good when you’re 95 or 100 years old. So, it was our duty to call the 20 veterans and tell them, I know you packed a month ago but unpack your bag because it’s not going to happen. That’s really hard,” explains Edwards.
However, with the hope of a better 2021, the foundation is planning to take some Korean war veterans back to Korea, and also take some vets back to Vietnam. The foundation will also continue to move forward with their Transition Program for recently retired special forces. Focusing on first quarter of next year, Edwards and his team are planning to do a program that will involve Special Forces, Navy Seals, Green Berets and NFL players while putting a focus on “that bond and brotherhood together while talking about real stuff that us alpha males don’t like to talk about,” said Edwards.
Although the Battlefield Return programs have not been able to go back to the commemorations, the education part of the foundation’s program has been able to adapt to these technology-focused times and has been hosting school assemblies via Zoom. “Every year we take a veteran to school assemblies for the education part of our program but unfortunately those have been cancelled because there are no schools in sessions, so we’ve been doing Zoom calls instead. It’s a bummer because it’s so important with kids to interact with our veterans and learn. We have a peer to development leadership program that has kids watch videos and talk about their feelings and write it down and all of that has been put on hold, which has been a bummer. Even with our fundraisers; we’re all volunteers just trying to get over that threshold to fund our mission, but we haven’t been able to fundraise this year. Our veterans are the ones that are suffering but hopefully we can all hold tight for now,” said Edwards.