ILNews

Lawyer expertise and experience lift Honor Flight to new heights

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

Imagine Indiana without the city of Fort Wayne – a city of more than 200,000 people – gone.

Now image that every person in both Evansville and Gary is a wounded survivor of war. Another 200,000 people, this time injured in some way due to combat.

honorflight-15col.jpg Attorney Bob Kistler, right, helped check in participants and companions at the Fort Wayne International Airport before the Oct. 23 Honor Flight (IL Photo/Steve Linsenmayer)

The total population of these cities is equivalent to the number of U.S. casualties in World War II. No Americans before or since have a real understanding of the impact that war had on our country.

Lloyd Urbine understands. At 96, Urbine remembers quite a bit about his service during that war, good, bad and sad. On his recent trip to Washington, D.C., to visit the World War II Memorial, the wall of more than 4,000 gold stars impressed him; each star represents 100 Americans who were killed or wounded in that war.

“It was important to me, being in the war and my experiences,” he said. “It was a terrible tragedy we had because it brought about so much death and destruction. I got to associate with lots of people during the war, and I know what death and destruction look like.”

Urbine’s trip was courtesy of Honor Flight, a national organization whose mission is to transport America’s veterans to Washington, D.C., to visit the monument that commemorates their service, thus honoring and thanking them for that service. Founded in 2005 by a veteran pilot who realized many elderly vets, especially those from World War II, were dying without seeing their national monument, Honor Flight now has hubs across the country, including three in Indiana. Priority is given to World War II, Korean War and terminally ill veterans.

“This year is the first year we’ll have done three flights,” said Bob Myer, volunteer president of Honor Flight Northeast Indiana in Fort Wayne. “The main reason we added a flight is because we have an application file that keeps growing. We hoped that we were finished with our World War II vets and that we could move on to the Korean War, but right now we’ve got over 200 applications between World War II and Korean War. We’re trying to work those down because most of the World War II vets are in their 90s now.”

Right place, right time

honorflight2-15col.jpg Navy veteran Ben Gibson of Fort Wayne (IL Photo/Steve Linsenmayer)

Law brings people together but not often for positive reasons. Fortunately for Bob Kistler, an associate at Faegre Baker Daniels LLP in Fort Wayne, the law and a fellow lawyer forged his connection to Honor Flight.

“A partner in my group knew I had experience filing with the IRS for tax-exempt organizations,” Kistler explained. “[They] needed assistance with getting Honor Flight Northeast Indiana hub recognized by the IRS under 501(c)3. Initially it was a pro bono project to assist with them registering with the IRS as a not-for-profit. Once the project was over [the founder] was very persuasive in asking me to join the board. I was on the board for two years. Since I left the board I continued to be involved pro bono as they need or just as a volunteer.”

Kistler attributes his involvement in Honor Flight to being in the right place at the right time, yet much of his involvement stems from his own military experience and others’ knowledge of it. His position as chair of the Indiana State Bar Association’s Military & Veterans Affairs Committee as well as his involvement in Indiana’s Lawyers for Soldiers program advertised his interest in and service to vets.

“I was in the Army over 10 years – long before I became a lawyer,” he said. “One of the things I enjoyed most about military service was the soldiers. It is a very different experience than most people have about where they work and who they work with. It makes me particularly aware of veterans’ issues.”

Preparing for take off

Urbine recalls the send-off he and other vets received Oct. 23, the day of their Honor Flight. He was surprised so many people got up so early – the group gathered at 6 a.m. – to bid them bon voyage.

“I was embarrassed by how much attention we got,” he said. “We didn’t have to do anything except go along on this wonderful trip. These kids had sent all these letters, and some of them were pretty well written, a whole lot of notes and pictures saying thank you for your service. Then they had something, and it was a blanket from the high school. A couple of girls worked on the thing so I’ll have to send them a personal thank you.”

As an Honor Flight honoree, Urbine is unaware of the time and orchestration necessary to plan and present such a trip. With last month’s government shutdown, the trip was tentative, but the group received permission to visit the World War II and Korean memorials from the U.S. National Park Service. The day’s itinerary generally includes the war memorials, including the Vietnam Wall, Iwo Jima, Arlington Cemetery, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the Women’s Memorial, because the trip generally has women vets as well as men.

Kistler has participated as both guardian and trip leader on a few occasions and can attest to the “marathon” of planning, training and oversight required to transport 150 people more than 1,000 miles roundtrip and guide them through a city-wide tour in a day’s time. When half of those people are elderly and require wheelchairs, walkers or other specialized health equipment to get around, careful planning becomes even more important.

The trick, according to Kistler, is to plan so well that the day goes off without a hitch and the vets need do nothing but enjoy themselves. From the 6 a.m. welcome wagon to the hot breakfast prepared and served by the Indiana Air National Guard to the bands playing as the group disembarks at Reagan National Airport to the disposable cameras and other perks the vets receive through the course of the day, this marathon is all about them.

“They spend a day with someone who is dedicated to thanking them for their service and will go out of their way to provide them with unique experiences and takeaways from the trip,” he said. “You get a chance to meet someone who really is a hero.”

Salute them one and all

There is a certain appeal to the Honor Flight concept that resonates with many who seek volunteer opportunities at the organization. The Northeast Indiana hub has hundreds of volunteer applications, but can’t offer service positions to everyone.

“It is one example of one of the good things going on,” Kistler said. “I appreciate not just veterans but all the people who are doing things to help and honor them.”

The American Legion, VFW, AMVETS and Disabled American Veterans are larger organizations that assist vets on many levels in many ways, while smaller local organizations also seek volunteer assistance.

“Veterans that have served are experiencing a lot of issues unique to every one of them,” he said. “You can’t really see what’s happened to them but it’s incredibly important to make them aware of how much we value their service.”•

ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in Indiana Lawyer editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. California Sex Offender Management Board (CASOMB) End of Year Report 2014. (page 13) Under the current system many local registering agencies are challenged just keeping up with registration paperwork. It takes an hour or more to process each registrant, the majority of whom are low risk offenders. As a result law enforcement cannot monitor higher risk offenders more intensively in the community due to the sheer numbers on the registry. Some of the consequences of lengthy and unnecessary registration requirements actually destabilize the life’s of registrants and those -such as families- whose lives are often substantially impacted. Such consequences are thought to raise levels of known risk factors while providing no discernible benefit in terms of community safety. The full report is available online at. http://www.casomb.org/index.cfm?pid=231 National Institute of Justice (NIJ) US Department of Justice Office of Justice Programs United States of America. The overall conclusion is that Megan’s law has had no demonstrated effect on sexual offenses in New Jersey, calling into question the justification for start-up and operational costs. Megan’s Law has had no effect on time to first rearrest for known sex offenders and has not reduced sexual reoffending. Neither has it had an impact on the type of sexual reoffense or first-time sexual offense. The study also found that the law had not reduced the number of victims of sexual offenses. The full report is available online at. https://www.ncjrs.gov/app/publications/abstract.aspx? ID=247350 The University of Chicago Press for The Booth School of Business of the University of Chicago and The University of Chicago Law School Article DOI: 10.1086/658483 Conclusion. The data in these three data sets do not strongly support the effectiveness of sex offender registries. The national panel data do not show a significant decrease in the rate of rape or the arrest rate for sexual abuse after implementation of a registry via the Internet. The BJS data that tracked individual sex offenders after their release in 1994 did not show that registration had a significantly negative effect on recidivism. And the D.C. crime data do not show that knowing the location of sex offenders by census block can help protect the locations of sexual abuse. This pattern of noneffectiveness across the data sets does not support the conclusion that sex offender registries are successful in meeting their objectives of increasing public safety and lowering recidivism rates. The full report is available online at. http://www.jstor.org/stable/full/10.1086/658483 These are not isolated conclusions but are the same outcomes in the majority of conclusions and reports on this subject from multiple government agencies and throughout the academic community. People, including the media and other organizations should not rely on and reiterate the statements and opinions of the legislators or other people as to the need for these laws because of the high recidivism rates and the high risk offenders pose to the public which simply is not true and is pure hyperbole and fiction. They should rely on facts and data collected and submitted in reports from the leading authorities and credible experts in the fields such as the following. California Sex Offender Management Board (CASOMB) Sex offender recidivism rate for a new sex offense is 0.8% (page 30) The full report is available online at http://www.cdcr.ca.gov/Adult_Research_Branch/Research_Documents/2014_Outcome_Evaluation_Report_7-6-2015.pdf California Sex Offender Management Board (CASOMB) (page 38) Sex offender recidivism rate for a new sex offense is 1.8% The full report is available online at. http://www.google.com/url?sa= t&source=web&cd=1&ved= 0CCEQFjAA&url=http%3A%2F% 2Fwww.cdcr.ca.gov%2FAdult_ Research_Branch%2FResearch_ documents%2FOutcome_ evaluation_Report_2013.pdf&ei= C9dSVePNF8HfoATX-IBo&usg=AFQjCNE9I6ueHz-o2mZUnuxLPTyiRdjDsQ Bureau of Justice Statistics 5 PERCENT OF SEX OFFENDERS REARRESTED FOR ANOTHER SEX CRIME WITHIN 3 YEARS OF PRISON RELEASE WASHINGTON, D.C. Within 3 years following their 1994 state prison release, 5.3 percent of sex offenders (men who had committed rape or sexual assault) were rearrested for another sex crime, the Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) announced today. The full report is available online at. http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/press/rsorp94pr.cfm Document title; A Model of Static and Dynamic Sex Offender Risk Assessment Author: Robert J. McGrath, Michael P. Lasher, Georgia F. Cumming Document No.: 236217 Date Received: October 2011 Award Number: 2008-DD-BX-0013 Findings: Study of 759 adult male offenders under community supervision Re-arrest rate: 4.6% after 3-year follow-up The sexual re-offense rates for the 746 released in 2005 are much lower than what many in the public have been led to expect or believe. These low re-offense rates appear to contradict a conventional wisdom that sex offenders have very high sexual re-offense rates. The full report is available online at. https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/grants/236217.pdf Document Title: SEX OFFENDER SENTENCING IN WASHINGTON STATE: RECIDIVISM RATES BY: Washington State Institute For Public Policy. A study of 4,091 sex offenders either released from prison or community supervision form 1994 to 1998 and examined for 5 years Findings: Sex Crime Recidivism Rate: 2.7% Link to Report: http://www.oncefallen.com/files/Washington_SO_Recid_2005.pdf Document Title: Indiana’s Recidivism Rates Decline for Third Consecutive Year BY: Indiana Department of Correction 2009. The recidivism rate for sex offenders returning on a new sex offense was 1.05%, one of the lowest in the nation. In a time when sex offenders continue to face additional post-release requirements that often result in their return to prison for violating technical rules such as registration and residency restrictions, the instances of sex offenders returning to prison due to the commitment of a new sex crime is extremely low. Findings: sex offenders returning on a new sex offense was 1.05% Link to Report: http://www.in.gov/idoc/files/RecidivismRelease.pdf Once again, These are not isolated conclusions but are the same outcomes in the majority of reports on this subject from multiple government agencies and throughout the academic community. No one can doubt that child sexual abuse is traumatic and devastating. The question is not whether the state has an interest in preventing such harm, but whether current laws are effective in doing so. Megan’s law is a failure and is destroying families and their children’s lives and is costing tax payers millions upon millions of dollars. The following is just one example of the estimated cost just to implement SORNA which many states refused to do. From Justice Policy Institute. Estimated cost to implement SORNA Here are some of the estimates made in 2009 expressed in 2014 current dollars: California, $66M; Florida, $34M; Illinois, $24M; New York, $35M; Pennsylvania, $22M; Texas, $44M. In 2014 dollars, Virginia’s estimate for implementation was $14M, and the annual operating cost after that would be $10M. For the US, the total is $547M. That’s over half a billion dollars – every year – for something that doesn’t work. http://www.justicepolicy.org/images/upload/08-08_FAC_SORNACosts_JJ.pdf. Attempting to use under-reporting to justify the existence of the registry is another myth, or a lie. This is another form of misinformation perpetrated by those who either have a fiduciary interest in continuing the unconstitutional treatment of a disfavored group or are seeking to justify their need for punishment for people who have already paid for their crime by loss of their freedom through incarceration and are now attempting to reenter society as honest citizens. When this information is placed into the public’s attention by naive media then you have to wonder if the media also falls into one of these two groups that are not truly interested in reporting the truth. Both of these groups of people that have that type of mentality can be classified as vigilantes, bullies, or sociopaths, and are responsible for the destruction of our constitutional values and the erosion of personal freedoms in this country. I think the media or other organizations need to do a in depth investigation into the false assumptions and false data that has been used to further these laws and to research all the collateral damages being caused by these laws and the unconstitutional injustices that are occurring across the country. They should include these injustices in their report so the public can be better informed on what is truly happening in this country on this subject. Thank you for your time.

  2. Freedom as granted in the Constitution cannot be summarily disallowed without Due Process. Unable to to to the gym, church, bowling alley? What is this 1984 level nonsense? Congrats to Brian for having the courage to say that this was enough! and Congrats to the ACLU on the win!

  3. America's hyper-phobia about convicted sex offenders must end! Politicians must stop pandering to knee-jerk public hysteria. And the public needs to learn the facts. Research by the California Sex Offender Management Board as shown a recidivism rate for convicted sex offenders of less than 1%. Less than 1%! Furthermore, research shows that by year 17 after their conviction, a convicted sex offender is no more likely to commit a new sex offense than any other member of the public. Put away your torches and pitchforks. Get the facts. Stop hysteria.

  4. He was convicted 23 years ago. How old was he then? He probably was a juvenile. People do stupid things, especially before their brain is fully developed. Why are we continuing to punish him in 2016? If he hasn't re-offended by now, it's very, very unlikely he ever will. He paid for his mistake sufficiently. Let him live his life in peace.

  5. This year, Notre Dame actually enrolled an equal amount of male and female students.

ADVERTISEMENT