Operation Hero Miles was created by Congressman Ruppersberger(D-MD) 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. If you ever wanted to support our troops, this is a marvelous opportunity to do so and what better time to do so as we remember the 5-year anniversary of 9-11.
Now operating through a partnership with the Fisher House Foundation, the program seeks and issues badly needed free tickets to our service men and woman and their families.
I spoke with the Fisher House Vice President of Communications, James D. Weiskopf, about the innovative program. According to James,
"With your support, we have provided nearly 6,500 tickets to Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom hospitalized service members and their families, worth more than $8 million (average savings per ticket is currently about $1,300).
Fisher House™ is proud to partner with Hero Miles in support of our wounded and injured service men and women and their families. We do not yet have access to all frequent flyer miles donated through Hero Miles, but do have partnerships with the following airlines: AirTran Airways, Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Continental Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Midwest Airlines, Northwest Airlines, United Airlines, US Airways."
Fisher House takes care of all associated airline ticket taxes, security fees and administrative fees. Furthermore, they handle the first trip for a non-accompanied minor. It is worth noting, though, that Fisher House agreements with individual airlines only permit airline tickets for military (or DoD civilian employees) hospitalized as a result of their service in Iraq, Afghanistan, or surrounding areas, and their families. These tickets can not be used for R&R; travel, ordinary leave, emergency leave, or other travel not related to a medical condition.
Fisher House is involved with numerous programs but offers a specific page for donating frequent flyer miles. It is appropriately named Hero Miles. Be sure to scroll down to view the PDF file entitled Quick Reference Guide To Donate Miles. This file offers a concise procedure for each participating airline.
Cardholders who have travel rewards credit cards can participate in the program by following a two-step process. First of all, you must transfer the miles that you've earned on your rewards card into an airline frequent flyer account. Then once the miles are in the airline account, simply ask the airline to transfer the miles following the procedure listed above. Please note that some reward cards, particularly those that are not directly affiliated with an airline, will not allow you to transfer miles into an airline frequent flyer account.
If you ever wanted to support our service men and woman and have frequent flyer miles available, then please seriously consider this deserving program. Regardless of your personal feelings about the war that we're waging, you will be helping some very deserving individuals and their families who are doing a very difficult task on behalf of their country.
The Hero Miles creator, Congressman C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, sums up the beauty of the program best by noting that,
"Whether you are for or against the War in Iraq, we must support our troops. When I visited BWI-Thurgood Marshall Airport greeting the servicemen and women coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan, I was shocked to learn they were forced to pay their own way home from there. I got together with the airlines and set up a website, HeroMiles.org, creating a way for Americans to donate their unused frequent flyer miles to military personnel, and Operation Hero Miles was born.
More than 540 million miles have been donated - enough for more than 22,000 free flights for the troops. Operation Hero Miles was expanded to give family members of wounded servicemen and women free plane tickets to visit their loved ones recovering at military hospitals across the country. Sometimes the love and support of family is the best medicine to help a troop recover. It is an honor to give something as small as a plane ticket to our servicemen and women and their families who give so much and risk their lives for their country."
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