HINES – Governor Pat Quinn today was joined by the Fisher House Foundation to encourage people across Illinois to help injured servicemembers overseas connect with their families through Operation Hero Miles. The program uses frequent flyer miles donated by passengers to provide airfare that will connect wounded, injured or ill service members to their families. Today’s announcement is part of Governor Quinn’s commitment to honor, protect and support the men and women who have served our nation.
“Everyone wants to spend the holidays with the ones they love,” Governor Quinn said. “Operation Hero Miles gives our wounded warriors and their families the opportunity to spend the holidays together despite the difficulties our veterans face on the long road to recovery. Donating your frequent flyer miles in support of those who have sacrificed so much for us is a great way to give back this holiday season.”
Administered by the Fisher House Foundation, Operation Hero Miles uses donated frequent flyer miles to provide free round-trip airline tickets to military families flying to visit a service member receiving medical treatment. The program also enables wounded or ill service members with approved leave to fly home at no cost. To date, Operation Hero Miles has issued more than 40,000 donated tickets, saving servicemembers and their families nearly $63 million. A list of major airline partners that help support the Hero Miles program include: Airtran Airlines, Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Airlines, Frontier Airlines, United Airlines and US Airways. To donate airline miles, visit http://fisherhouse.org.
The Governor recently returned from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., his ninth annual trip to visit wounded Illinois troops and share holiday cards from students across Illinois. For the previous eight years, Governor Quinn traveled to the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany, which is the largest American hospital outside of the United States. Governor Quinn visited Walter Reed this year since many service members have returned home since the drawdown of troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Governor Quinn has made commitment to veterans, servicemembers and their families a top priority throughout his career in public service. He has led the Illinois Warrior Assistance Program that helps veterans transition back to their daily lives, and the Welcome Home Heroes program which help supports Illinois servicemembers seeking home ownership. Also, as Lieutenant Governor, Governor Quinn championed the Illinois Military Family Relief Fund Act, which established a fund to provide grants to families of Illinois National Guard members and Illinois residents serving in the U.S. Armed Forces Reserve components who were called to active duty as a result of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. These grants help servicemembers and their families with the costs of food, housing, utilities, medical services and other expenses they struggle to afford because a wage-earner has temporarily left civilian employment to be placed on active military duty. The fund has distributed more than $15.1 million to 29,625 Illinois military families to assist with the financial burden at home when a loved one is deployed overseas.
For more information about these and other programs for our Veterans, visit http://operationhomefront.org or call the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs at (217) 782-6641 or (312) 814-2460.