Operation Freedom Bird sends vets to Washington, DC

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By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver

PHOENIX -- A group of veterans is getting ready for a very special trip.

“Today is one of the most exciting things I've ever done,” said Dave Johnson, an Army veteran who spent two years in Vietnam.

On Sunday, they headed to Washington, D.C., all because of donations made to Operation Freedom Bird.

“To go back to Washington on this holiday, a holiday to us, is mind boggling. I can't wait to see the enthusiasm that takes place in that city,” Johnson said.

While in D.C., the vets will have the opportunity to see things they normally wouldn't be able to see and meet with experts in post-traumatic stress disorder.

“Every night we, after dinner, have two hours of group therapy, and the ... guys and gals start to share some of the things they've never shared before because they're in the safety of people who have had like pain," said Annette Puccia with Operation Freedom Bird. "The goal is to help them start to deal with the unresolved grief, loss, and to deal with PTSD."

Some of the vets had rocks and eggs thrown at them when they returned from Vietnam back in the 1960s, so this time when they head back home on Wednesday, they'll have a different welcome -- one with balloons, family, friends and the color guard honoring their service.