Program benefiting military families reaches monumental milestone
(Timonium, MD)- The national program enabling Americans to donate their frequent flyer miles to loved ones traveling to visit recovering wounded warriors has saved military families $50 million to date, providing 32,000 airline tickets since 2004. Created by Congressman Ruppersberger, the “Hero Miles” program is administered by the Fisher House, a nonprofit best known for its network of comfort homes built on the grounds of major military and VA medical centers.
“The overwhelming response to ‘Hero Miles’ reflects the patriotism of Americans and our deep appreciation for the service and sacrifice of our troops and their families,” Congressman Ruppersberger said. “Sometimes, the love and support of family and friends at the bedside of a wounded warrior is the best medicine. This program continues to help reunite military families without worrying how much it will cost and I want to thank everyone who has donated and will continue to donate in the years to come.”
“We are excited that we have crossed the $50 million dollar mark,” said David Coker, President of Fisher House Foundation. “This is a tremendous burden that we have lifted from our nation’s wounded warriors and their families. When they need it most, our military families will be able to count on Hero Miles in the future. We will continue to ease their burden when much of their world has been turned upside down.”
The “Hero Miles” program provides free round-trip airfare to military members recovering at military or VA medical centers as a result of injuries sustained in overseas conflicts. “Hero Miles” also enables family and friends to visit injured troops while they are being treated. Hero Miles is supported by donated frequent flyer miles from AirTran, Alaska Airlines, American, Delta, Frontier, United and U.S. Airways.
“Our airline partners have been fantastic. If not for them and their loyal customers, we would not have any miles to use to help our wounded warriors and their families,” said Tish Stropes, Director of the Hero Miles Program. “There are so many families that simply would not be able to afford to visit if it were not for this program.”
The Allen family is one of those families. Staff Sergeant Chaz Allen was injured when he stepped on a pressure-plate IED in Afghanistan, immediately losing both legs and breaking his elbow. Flying first to Kandahar to Landstuhl for treatment, Chaz was then flown to Walter Reed Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.
While Chaz was in Afghanistan, his wife, Jessica, was running their household in Tennessee, taking care of their two little girls and shuffling them back and forth to school, Girl Scouts and dance classes. “Hero Miles” tickets allowed Jessica to travel between Walter Reed and Tennessee. Once the girls were out of school, the entire family was reunited with Chaz at Walter Reed in, where they are today, recovering together as a family.
Earlier this year, Congressman Ruppersberger was joined by Senator Ben Cardin in announcing an expansion of the program called “Hotels for Heroes” that will allow the American public to donate their hotel reward points in addition to their frequent flyer miles. So far, Marriott, Wyndham, AmericInn and Best Western are all accepting donated points through the program, which is also administered by Fisher House. Customers of Choice Hotels are able to convert their reward points to cash donations to support the program.
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