By Britney Walker, U.S. Army Forces Command Public AffairsDecember 8, 2010
ATLANTA (Dec. 7, 2010) - The 41st annual Military Holiday Lounge at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport's Concourse B at gate 33 is now open to serve military service members and their Families for the holidays.
Howard C. Butler, deputy commander of U.S. Army Garrison Fort McPherson and Fort Gillem, and 17 of his Soldiers were invited to participate in the opening ceremony as guests from the nearest military installation to the airport.
Hosted by current and retired Delta Airlines employees and their family members, the lounge is a safe haven for the thousands of Soldiers, sailors, airman, Marines, Coast Guardsmen and their Families who travel through the world's busiest airport each holiday season. It provides free personal hygiene items, beverages, baked goods and snacks to military service members. It is also a place where they can relax, watch a movie, listen to holiday music, and give their children a place to play games and make crafts.
Delta's Military Lounge is also supported by several corporate sponsors, which allows military service members to participate in these resources at no cost. The lounge serves an average of 7,267 people each season. 2010 marked the lounge's busiest season, serving 11,700 military service members.
The lounge is open to active duty and retired military members and their Families seven days a week from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., until Jan. 5, 2011. Operated by a core team of nine Delta employees, the lounge is also staffed by more than 100 volunteers from all over the United States and from overseas. The volunteers donate their time to make the holidays less stressful for our nation's men and women in uniform who are forced to travel during the holiday season.
Lorenzo Jones, a retired Delta employee, has volunteered at the lounge everyday it was open during the last two years. When asked why, he said, "Despite recently having both a stroke and a heart attack that left my entire left arm paralyzed, I just want to serve these people."
The holiday lounge also attracted about a half-dozen military travelers during its ribbon cutting ceremony. These military members were not formally invited, but happened to walk by the lounge and decided to step in to check it out.
Brig. Gen. Mark Corson, 103rd Expeditionary Sustainment Command, was on his way back to Iraq when he saw the lounge's sign. "I had no idea that Delta had a military lounge that has been in operation (during the holidays) for the last 41 years," said Corson. "I love folks who are looking out for Soldiers. Thanks to Delta, there is now a safe place for Soldiers to rest in the secure area of the airport." This lounge really says something about how the people of America support us, Corson said.
In addition to Delta's Military Holiday Lounge out on the concourse, the United Service Organizations (USO) also operates a military lounge year round in the airport's main terminal on the second floor above the atrium. USO is a private, nonprofit organization founded in 1941 to provide morale, welfare and recreation services to military personnel and their Families. Known as the Jean R. Amos USO Center, the facility at the airport is operated by the USO Council of Georgia, Inc. For information about the airport USO, call 404-761-8061 or visit the USO website at http://www.usogeorgia.org/volunteer.html