Miami International Airport’s military hospitality lounge needs volunteers, donations

Beyond the bustle of Miami International Airport’s Concourse E, there is a sanctuary for veterans and military families.

Lt. Col. Dorian Turner was utilizing the lounge with his wife Terea and young children two-year-old Tyler and seven-year-old Tori, who is a Girl Scouts brownie.

“A little piece of thank you, I think that communities give back to veterans,” Turner said.

The military hospitality lounge is run by Vietnam-era vets like Angel Rodriguez. He joined in 2011 as a volunteer and in 2013 the board appointed him as Executive Director.

“We show them where the snack area is,” Rodriguez said.  “Your home away from home. We have computers, we have wifi. We need to provide our veterans with a huge thank you for their service.”

Rodriguez is looking for volunteers and he recently gave a tour to a group of members of the Girl Scouts troop 1919.

“As you can see some of the pictures up on the wall of families who have been here with us, including my grandkids,” Rodriguez said.

The lounge depends on donations. Before the pandemic, they had 35 volunteers on deck and that number now stands at 18 and they are all in their 70′s. It is time to pass the baton so a younger generation can continue to pay it forward.

Many of those volunteers, whose average is 73, decided not to come back for health reasons, so Rodriguez is seeking younger veterans who can continue to pay these daily acts of kindness forward and volunteer with service members at the coffee machine.

“Keep the place clean, keep it neat,” Rodriguez said.

“Military personnel travels a lot and I think a lot of community members have appreciated personnel and one way they can give back in an hour here or there,” Turner said.

“What a way to show patriotism by volunteering here,” Rodriguez said.

For more information about how to support the lounge through donations or if you are over 21 and want to sign-up as a staff volunteer, visit this page.

Military Hospitality Lounge at Miami International Airport Fast Facts:

*They average 1400 guests a month.

*In 1998 a group of military veterans joined forces to create the nonprofit Armed Forces Service Center, better known as the Military Hospitality Lounge at Miami International Airport, to replace the United Service Organization (USO) which had to close its doors due to fundraising issues.

Call for Volunteers:

*The Military Hospitality Lounge is looking for volunteers to host the lounge. You must be 21 years old or older. Host duties include greeting military service members, veterans, and their families, keeping the lounge tidy, and helping replenish cold and hot snacks. “The most important duty is welcoming and thanking our guests for their service to this great nation.”

*They are seeking retirees who are able to service two to three 4-hour shifts a month.

“The most important duty is welcoming and thanking our guests for their service to this great nation.”

*MIS and TSA do require volunteers to fill out an application which will include a background check. You can start the process of applying to be a volunteer here: https://afscmiami.com/volunteer-at-lounge/

Girl Scouts Troop 1919:

*The members of Girl Scouts Troop 1919 are working with the Military Hospitality Lounge as part of their Bronze Award Project, one of the highest awards in Girl Scouting. The focus is to bring a sustainable community service project to the Military Hospitality Lounge at MIA to assist veterans, military personnel, and their families.

* If you want to assist their efforts to reach out to: classof2030.gstroop@gmail.com

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