'Hero Miles' Program Supports Families of Fallen, Wounded
(January 8, 2011)
|BETHESDA, Md., Jan. 5, 2011 – A popular program that turns
donated frequent-flyer miles into free airline tickets for
wounded warriors receiving medical care as well as their
families will expand this year so families of the fallen and
combat wounded can participate in two upcoming events.|
The Fisher House Foundation, which administers the “Hero
Miles” program, plans to offer airline tickets so grieving
families needing assistance can fly to Washington, D.C.,
this Memorial Day weekend to participate in the Tragedy
Assistance Program for Survivors seminar, foundation
President Dave Coker told American Forces Press Service.
The annual conference, to run May 27 to 30, offers a camp
for children, a workshop for adults and comfort for families
whose military member died in service to the nation,
regardless of the cause.
“We will use Hero Miles to bring in any families that need
assistance, and eliminate the cost of getting to
[Washington,] D.C. as a barrier,” Coker said.
In addition, the Hero Miles program will help families to
attend the second annual Warrior Games held in the spring in
Colorado Springs, Colo., Coker said.
Some 200 disabled active-duty servicemembers and military
veterans will compete in the second annual Warrior Games,
scheduled for May 16 to 21 at the U.S. Olympic Training
Center. Participants will put their long recuperations and
months of training to the test as they go for the gold in
events to include shooting, swimming, archery, track and
field, cycling, sitting volleyball and wheelchair
basketball, officials said.
Coker called it fitting that the Hero Miles program helps
families who might otherwise not get the opportunity to
participate in these events.
“Our goal is to eliminate the barriers to participation, and
make sure that families who wish to attend these events can
do so,” he said.
Fisher House Foundation
has been underwriting all administrative costs and ticketing
charges for the Hero Miles program since 2005. The Hero
Miles program provides a way for passengers of participating
airlines to donate their unused frequent-flier miles to
reunite military men and women undergoing treatment at a
military or Veterans Affairs medical center with their
The program provides free round-trip airline tickets to two
categories of passengers. Servicemembers on at least five
days of approved leave from their medical center who don't
qualify for government-funded airfare can receive tickets
home and back. In addition, qualified servicemembers may
receive tickets to enable their family or close friends to
visit them while they're treated at the medical center.
To date, the program has provided more than 21,000 airline
tickets -– valued at more than $27 million -- to combat
veterans of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and their
families, Coker said.
Coker marveled at the generosity of people who donate their
frequent-flyer miles to support the program.
“The miles have no intrinsic value, and [donors] aren't
getting a tax deduction for donating the miles,” he said.
“They are doing it because they want to support the
For as little as $5, or more typically, $10, the program can
provide free airline tickets to servicemembers or families
that otherwise might cost them about $1,400, Coker said.
“So this is a tremendous way that we can have a huge
impact,” he added.
Article and photo by Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
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