By 2010, Operation Hero Miles provided more than 19,000 free airline tickets to Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom hospitalized service members and their families.
Before they were famous, many truly influential men and women started by serving their country in the US military or grew up in military families.

Wounded Military and Families Fly Free on Hero Miles

If you or a loved one is hospitalized for injures sustained during service in Iraq or Afghanistan, your military family can fly free to be supportive during the medical recovery, thanks to the Fisher House Foundation and Operation Hero Miles and hundreds of air travelers who have donated millions of frequent flier miles as a heartfelt thank you to wounded military servicemembers.

In fact, by 2010, the flying public had donated approximately 850 million frequent flyer miles through Operation Hero Miles, which provided more than 19,000 free airline tickets to Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom hospitalized service members and their families.

Each donated airline-miles ticket represents a cost savings of at least $1,300 to service members and their families; and that means wounded servicemembers and their families saved nearly $26 million, while remaining together through a military recuperation.


Operation Hero Miles is a collaborative effort between individual airlines including AirTran Airways, Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Continental Airlines, Frontier Airlines, Midwest Airlines, United Airlines, US Airways now merged with America West Airlines; air travel passengers who donate their frequent flyer miles to service members and their families; and the Fisher House Foundation which administers Operation Hero Miles and turns frequent flier mile donations into free airline tickets for military men and women undergoing treatment at a military or VA medical center due to service in Iraq or Afghanistan, and their military families.

A current list of participating airlines and those accepting donations of miles can be found at the Fisher House website.

The nonprofit 501(c)(3) public charity Fisher House Foundation administers the "Hero Miles" program for the Department of Defense in accordance with Public Law 108-110, the FY 05 Defense Authorization Act. The Fisher Foundation even pays all airport security fees, taxes, and any administrative fees on the tickets, there are no costs at all to military recipients

Fisher House Foundation is primarily involved in the building and donating, to Army, Navy, Air Force, and Department of Veterans Affairs, of fully furnished homes on the grounds of major medical centers where veterans receive continuing treatment, and where their visiting families can lodge, free of charge. The Foundation is a member of DoD's America Supports You program.

Yes...if you fall into one of these two categories of eligible recipients:

  • Service men and women with an approved leave of five or more days may be given a free round trip airline ticket for a trip from the medical center to their home and return if they are not eligible for government funded airfare.
  • Qualifying service men and women may be given free round trip airline tickets to enable their family or close friends to visit them while they are being treated at the medical center.
Free airline tickets are also available to family members attending the funeral or dignified transfer of remains of a service member killed in Iraq or Afghanistan, when coordinated with the casualty assistance officer.


If you qualify, you can easily request a Hero Miles ticket.

For military family members, Fisher House Foundation must verify that the service member is eligible for the program and that the service member agrees to the travel by his or her relative(s) or friend(s). The Foundation normally uses the social work staff or service casualty offices to verify eligibility.

At some medical centers, there are established offices to assist families, such as the Soldier and Family Assistance Center at Walter Reed Army Medical Center; the Warrior Family Assistance Center at Brooke Army Medical Center, or Marine Liaisons at Naval medical centers.

If the hospitalized service member is not able to complete the request forms, the Foundation will accept that the guardian or close family member is making the request on behalf of the service member.

Fisher House Foundation requires that a form (available at most military or VA
medical centers, case workers, or the Hero Miles section of the Fisher House
Foundation web site) be completed for each request. The form must be validated by a health care professional to ensure eligibility, and the Foundation must be certain that the name on each ticket requested exactly matches the name on the identification presented to airport security on the day of the flight.


All Hero Miles ticketing is done by e-tickets, so passengers need only show a government issued photo ID at the airport to receive their ticket. It is important that travelers know the record locator or confirmation number for their ticket.

Particpating airlines vary in rules about itinerary changes. Generally, Fisher House Foundation does not permit any changes that would result in the Foundation paying a change fee unless the reason is medical necessity, and unexpected.

Even a child (unaccompanied minor) can travel on a Hero Miles ticket, but unaccompanied minor travel is the exception rather than the rule and each airline has different criteria and costs associated with such travel.


Hero Miles anticipates that some service members may be hospitalized for extensive periods.

And so Fisher House Foundation does not place limits on the number or frequency of the travel as long as it is reasonable and in the best interests of the hospitalized service member.

When a service member is permanently assigned to a location where his or her family lives, they no longer need airline tickets to be reunited with loved ones through Operation Hero Miles.


Air travelers can donate not just frequent flier miles, but airline coupons good for free flights, or coupons that can be used to reduce the cost of a purchased ticket, if the coupon, ticket or voucher is allowed to be used by another individual.

Mail your coupon or ticket to Fisher House Foundation, 111 Rockville Pike, Suite 420, Rockville, Maryland 20850.

For more information on qualifying for Operation Hero Miles, call Fisher House Foundation toll-free at (888) 294-8560 or send an email
to [email protected]


The original idea to assist the families of service members hospitalized as a result of service in Iraq and Afghanistan came from the spouses of two senior Defense Department officials: Mrs. Pride Winkenwerder, spouse of Assistant Secretary of Defense (Health Affairs) Dr. William Winkenwerder, and Mrs. Mary Jo Myers, wife of then Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff General Richard B. Myers.

Operation Hero Miles was then started by Congressman "Dutch" Ruppersburger (DMD) in late 2003 to provide free airline tickets to service men and women returning to the U. S. from Iraq or Afghanistan on R & R (rest and recuperation) leave. Initially, Fisher House Foundation partnered with Congressman Ruppersburger for this purpose of providing free R & R travel.

In early 2004, Congress and the military authorized all R & R travel at government expense, so there was no longer a need for the donation of frequent flyer miles for R & R travel. The original Hero Miles program then evolved into its current program in order to support hospitalized service members and their families during their recovery.


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