A Unique Way to Support Our Troops

The other day my ex-wife sent me an email reminding me about this great way to really support our men and women serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Operation Hero Miles was created by Congressman C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger in cooperation with close to a dozen United States Airlines in October, 2003. The program allows troops stationed in Iraq or Afghanistan to fly home on leave for free. It also gives family members of wounded servicemen and women free plane tickets to visit their loved ones recovering at military hospitals across the country. Operation Hero Miles gives ordinary citizens an opportunity to help our troops in a very direct way that makes a real difference in their lives.

The program is brilliant in its simplicity. Travelers donate their unused frequent flyer miles to the Pentagon for our troops. The following airlines are currently participating in Operation Hero Miles: AirTran Airways, Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Continental Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Midwest Airlines, Northwest Airlines, United Air Lines, and US Airways.

Through a partnership with the Fisher House Foundation and individual airlines, airline tickets are available for service men and women wounded or injured in Iraq or Afghanistan or for their families to visit them in the hospital.

At this time, Alaska Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Northwest Airlines, United Airlines, and US Airways accept donations from their passengers.

When Congressman Ruppersberger created Operation Hero Miles, the program awarded free tickets to servicemen and women stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan returning to the United States for their two weeks of Rest and Relaxation (R & R) Leave. In early 2004, the Department of Defense began paying for R & R leave. At that time, Operation Hero Miles began awarding free tickets to family members of wounded troops traveling to military hospitals to visit their injured loves ones. Sometimes the love and support of family is the best medicine to help a troop recover from a wound.

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3 Responses to A Unique Way to Support Our Troops

  1. Ginny Cotts says:

    Excellent Dave.

    I want to totally reinforce:

    “Sometimes the love and support of family is the best medicine to help a troop recover from a wound.”

    Absolutely, positively, and well recognized in health care.
    There is only so much we can do for the mind and body before the spirit has to get into the effort. And only so much strangers can do for a sagging spirit. Families rule when it comes to helping someone keep going against the time, pain, setbacks and limits. Even the strongest and most determined keep their effort at higher levels when loved ones are there to give support.

    If you have some miles to donate, please consider it. Even a few will add to the pool and some families are not all that far in airline miles from the hospitals. The time it saves them is one of the keys. Less time traveling, more time with the wounded veteran.

  2. Yep, with this program there is no such thing as not enough miles to participate.

    Anyone who ever flies anywhere can do this. Even if someone doesn’t fly enough on a particular airline to ever earn enough miles for a free ticket. And even if it is only for one flight, everyone should always sign up for that airlines frequent flier program. Then you can donate the miles from that trip into the pool to provide a ticket for family members of one of our injured military personnel, so they’re able to fly to whichever hospital they’re loved one is being treated in.

    It was a really excellent and clever solution that Congressman Ruppersberger and the participating airlines implemented to fill an urgent need. Big props to him again for recongnizing the injustice and then quickly taking action!

  3. This really is a great program, thanks for posting this Dave! So many people never use their miles, I think. This puts them to good use.