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Ruppersberger Announces the Expansion of "Operation Hero Miles" to Include Troops on Emergency Leave

Nov 20, 2009
Press Release

Washington, DC - Congressman C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD) ) is pleased to announce the expansion of "Operation Hero Miles" to include troops on emergency leave. Many of these soldiers are coming home to the United States to spend time with a dying loved one, attend a funeral of a family member, or share in the birth of a child. Now they also can get free plane tickets home through "Operation Hero Miles".

"Soldiers serving our country overseas who are granted emergency leave need to get home quickly to handle important family situations. They should be able to do this without worrying how much it will cost. 'Operation Hero Miles' will allow them to do this. 'Operation Hero Miles shows our troops and their families that we value their sacrifice for America," said Congressman Ruppersberger.

Soldiers coming home for emergency leave or R & R from Iraq are required to purchase their own tickets to fly to their hometowns once they land at American airports. The troops on R & R are flown to one of three airports - Baltimore Washington International Airport in Maryland, Hartsfield International Airport in Atlanta, GA, and Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport in Texas. Troops on "R and R" (rest and relaxation) from Iraq are already receiving free plane tickets home as part of "Operation Hero Miles." Congressman Ruppersberger is greatly concerned about this excessive financial burden placed on the soldiers trying to visit with family and created "Operation Hero Miles".

Travelers all across the United States have donated more than 7.8 million frequent flyer miles to "Operation Hero Miles" through the web site www.heromiles.org since the program was started October 21st, 2003. This tremendous response doesn't include the frequent flyer miles donated directly to the airlines. Delta Airlines, Southwest Airlines, and Alaska Airlines are currently participating in "Operation Hero Miles".

Congressman Ruppersberger is challenging all of the other airlines that offer service in the United States to follow suit and start similar programs of their own.

More frequent flyer mile donations are still needed so "Operation Hero Miles" can help more troops fly home for free. Please check out these important stories written about the program,

Flights Home Uncertain, RecordNet, Stockton, CA

Soldier dies while heading home for mother's funeral, Post-Gazette.com, Pittsburgh, PA

5 million frequent-flyer miles donated to troops, Baltimore Sun, Baltimore, MD