LIFE SUPPORT AREA, Kuwait (Jan. 10, 2011) -- The U.S. Army's Theater Gateway staff celebrated a major milestone in their travel-support mission, Jan. 10, with a One Millionth Passenger Ceremony at the Army Life Support Area in Kuwait.

Managed by Third Army and the 1st Theater Sustainment Command, the Theater Gateway team has been supporting the Rest and Recuperation travel program since 2003. The R&R travel program was designed to ensure deployed personnel have coordinated travel for the two weeks of leave they are allowed to take during their year-long deployments.

The R&R program, and the work of those who make it happen, "is an investment in the quality of life for our forces that builds a resilient spirit and enhances our military readiness," said Maj. Gen. Kenneth S. Dowd, commanding general, 1st TSC, in his speech at the event.

Each day, 300 to 590 travelers pass through the desert travel area on their way to Atlanta or Dallas, the two state-side travel hubs for the R&R program. The Theater Gateway team in Kuwait coordinates lodging, orients travelers to dining and morale activities, and makes flight arrangements.

The millionth traveler actually passed through the gateway in November of 2010, and the Jan. 10 ceremony was a time to recognize the 24-hour efforts of the gateway staff.

"This ceremony means, to servicemembers, that we have an R&R system in place that allows them [Soldiers] to transition out of combat to this location to be able to continue home to have R&R with their loved ones," Dowd said.

The Theater Gateway staff also presented certificates to 17 civilian organizations that have helped make traveling more pleasant for Soldiers.

"We certainly could not have accomplished this milestone without great volunteers and servicemembers at the personnel assistance points in Kuwait, Atlanta and Dallas," said Dowd. "Be it comfort kits, calling cards, or video books, these dedicated volunteers have provided comfort to over a million weary warriors."

A mixture of civilian representatives, Task Force Gateway servicemembers, and traveling Soldiers who were at the LSA processing for R&R at the time of the ceremony were treated to pastries and gourmet snacks at the event.

In addition to the desert celebration, the Army also held ceremonies at the airports in Atlanta and Dallas, Jan. 10, to commemorate the million-traveler milestone and to thank the organizations that have supported Soldiers as they travel around the world.

In his concluding remarks, Dowd expressed gratitude to the Theater Gateway staff and supporting organizations.

"On behalf of the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, Coast Guardsmen and civilians of Third Army who have traveled these halls, thank you," Dowd said.