09 June 2008

Thank you, Maine Troop Greeters!

For Immediate Release

There Are No Waiting Lines for Payphones with The Maine Troop Greeters of Bangor, Maine

Soldiers' Angels salutes The Maine Troop Greeters by donating $5,000 towards keeping service members connected to their loved ones.

June 8, 2008, Pasadena, CA - As the group of tired travelers get off the plane in Bangor, Maine, most are anxious to get to a phone to call home to let their family know they have arrived safely in America. These travelers are not just any travelers; they are members of the United States Armed Forces who have been serving overseas for the past year or more. Much to their surprise, there is not a line at the payphone; there are dozens of Americans waiting to greet them as they step into the terminal. Most of these supporters have a cell phone; handing it to the service members to make that immediate call to their family without having to wait any longer to touch base with those that they love.

On June 7, 2008 members of The Maine Troop Greeters of Bangor, Maine handed the phone to SPC Bretton Varn, not knowing that he is the son of Patti Patton-Bader, founder of Soldiers' Angels. Varn was able to call his mother to let her know that he was one step closer to seeing her and the rest of the family.

Knowing the importance of this connectivity to families, Soldiers' Angels is donating $5,000 to The Maine Troop Greeters to assist in their efforts of keeping service members connected to their loved ones. "This is the least that our organization can do in assisting this great organization in their mission," says Patton-Bader. "What a wonderful gift it was to hear my son's voice the minute he stepped on to American soil."

Led by Bill Knight of VFW Post 1761 in Bangor, Maine, caring individuals banded together back in 1991 during the Persian Gulf War to welcome troops passing through Bangor International Airport. Bangor serves as a gateway for service personnel heading to war and for those returning home. It is both the first stop on U.S. soil and last stop before going overseas for many. On average, at least two flights a day stop in Bangor on their way to or from destinations abroad.

Of the original 18 Maine Troop Greeters, Knight is the only one left. The other 17 have been replaced by more than 125 greeters, including members of other Posts and many folks from Bangor and surrounding communities. Most of the greeters are from the WWII and Korean War generations, though Vietnam vets are well-represented.

Why do these volunteer greeters often crawl out of bed in the middle of the night to cheer on war returnees at Bangor International Airport? Knight said it's because he doesn't want this newest generation of vets to feel like the Vietnam veterans.

The Maine Troop Greeters of Bangor, Maine are a non-profit group of veterans and men and women supporting our armed forces serving overseas by making sure that every troop flight is greeted at the Bangor International Airport. Day or night, rain or shine, it is The Maine Troop Greeters' commitment to welcome each troop home from war or give a proper sendoff to each of the young men and women heading overseas. They accomplish this by being there for them and offering them free cell phones to call a loved one, a snack to keep them going, and lots of hugs and handshakes to let them know we care.

Since the start of greeting flights in May of 2003, The Maine Troop Greeters have greeted over 400,000 service members and 35 military dogs. To view more information about The Maine Troop Greeters, please access their website or contact Bill Knight, (207) 478-3738 or E-mail troopgreeters@prexar.com. Meet the characters, watch promo clips, and get a behind the scenes look at the documentary film The Way We Get By -- A film about the Maine Troop Greeters of Bangor, Maine.

Soldiers’ Angels is a grassroots 501(c)(3) non-profit comprised of 200,000 volunteers in over twenty different teams and programs with unique and effective ways to support members of the U.S. military. Soldiers’ Angels operates internationally to provide letters, care packages, and comfort items to the deployed, and support for their families at home. They also provide assistance to the wounded, continuing support for veterans, remembrances and comfort for families of the fallen and immediate response to unique situations. For more information, visit the Soldiers' Angels website or call (615) 676-0239.


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