• Tell us why you’re passionate about helping military families, i.e., why do you want to help?
We are proud to “serve those who serve,” in appreication for their service to our country. That is what you are supposed to do, when someone is willing to put their life on the line for ‘love of country.’ The Armed Forces Service Center was founded by Maggie Purdum on November 22, 1970, as a tribute to those who serve - after her son was killed in action in Vietnam. To date, the center has served as an “oasis” for over 768,000 service members as they transit thru the Minneapolis/St.Paul Airport. We also work with the Minneapolis VA Medical Center, to assist the wounded as they transit thru the airport. And, the local military when requested to provide assistance for the fallen (and thier families).
• What is the program and/or service that you offer?
Minnesota Nice, At It's Best!! The Armed Forces Service Center (open 24/7 at MSP Airport) is "unique" to Minnesota. In addition to providing free food and shelter for over 760,000 active-duty military and their dependents. The Armed Forces Service Center has a core group of thirty-five volunteers that also serve as "TROOP GREETERS.”
This group of dedicated volunteers set-up a complementary mobile canteen for all troop arrivals at MSP (24/7). They arrive 2 hours prior to the military flight, to set-up the canteen (at all hours) for combat troops. The volunteers transport all supplies needed to the gate on two flat bed carts. Wearing their trade mark blue denim AFSC "troop greeter" shirts -- the volunteers set-up three tables filled with an assortment of beverages, snacks and toiletries in a patriotic decor. With free Wi-Fi access and calling cards. We also reach out to Costco, Sam's Club, Pearson Candy, MN Girl Scouts, HMS HOST, Gen.Mills, McDonalds and for product donated for troop arrivals. In support of combat troops, the AFSC 'troop greeters' remain on-site until their military charter flight departs. We have stayed with combat troops for 12 hours, 15 hours and 27 hours (we leave, when they leave). The AFSC 'troop greeters' (affectionately known at the airport as a NASCAR pit crew) have set-up a full mobile canteen with as little as a 1-2 hour notice.
The Armed Forces Service Center (AFSC) -- embarked upon a rewarding mission, after the director received a satellite call from a Marine in Iraq (2nd LT Ric Bridgett), requesting assistance for his unit en route to their base in Hawaii. From October 6, 2006 to Sept. 28, 2011, the AFSC 'troop greeters' have welcomed 227 Military charter flights (65,535 combat troops), to MSP airport. And, over 500 military buses (approx. 20,000), The volunteers that serve as troop greeters, meet-n-greet combat troops at all hours, via military charter flight or bus.
*10/5/06 - First flight welcomed w/310 Marines from Iraq, en route to Hawaii.
*6/8/08 - Assisted 350 combat troops en route to Iraq, stranded at MSP, for 12 hours. We were joined by Robert E. Simanek, Congressional Medal of Honor recipient (USMC).
*9/17/08 - Four dedicated troop greeters "stood watch" for 27 hours, to provide food & serviced for 310 combat Marines, en route to Iraq.
*7/1/10 - Largest number of combat troops met at one arrival (530).
*9/17/10 - AFSC Troop Greeters were Invited to Ft. McCoy, WI, to meet-n-greet 1,700 combat troops. For an overview of all our efforts to date, please visit http://mnafsc.org/troop_greeters.htm
*8/25 to 27, 2011 - The AFSC assisted over 500 troops from Ft. McCoy.
The 'Troop Greeters' also work with the Minneapolis VA Medical Center, to assist the wounded as they transit thru the airport. And, the local military when requested to provide assistance for the fallen. We also serve as host for the WWII Honor Flights.
WCCO TV, coverage of the 200th Military Flight at MSP (3/10/11) http://minnesota.cbslocal.com/2011/03/11/the-volunteers-behind-the-troop-greeters/
Our meet-n-greet efforts pale in comparison to our respected counter-parts in Bangor. However, we are equal in the gratitude expressed by the combat troops that we all serve.
• What are you doing to help?
For over 40 years, we have kept our doors to our airport facility open 24/7. 365 days a years. On 9/11, we provided free food and shelter for 15 Marines starnded at MSP airport when all flights were grounded in the USA. The AFSC is an "all free" facility located at the Minneapolis/St. Paul Airport, for active-duty military personnel, their dependents, activated Reservists and National Guardsmen, DOD as well as, our foreign allies.
• How long have you been providing this program and/or service?
The AFSC has been open since 1970. However, we have been greeting military charter buses to/from Ft.McCoy, WI, since 2003. And, welcoming military charter flights since 2006.
• Tell us about you or your organization.
The Armed Forces Service Center (AFSC) is an "all-free" stop located at the Minneapolis/St. Paul Intl. Airport, for active-duty military personnel, their dependents, activated Reservists and National Guardsmen, DOD as well as, our foreign allies.
UNIQUE TO MINNESOTA - The AFSC is a one-of-a kind facility. It is supported by a volunteer work force and contributions (financial and in-kind product donation) received from various veterans organizations, corporate and personal contributors. With affiliation/funds from our respected counter-parts at the USO.
FOUNDED - November 22, 1970, by Maggie Purdum, after her son died in Vietnam.
SERVICES - With have a lounge area with comfortable leather furniture, a dining table, buffet, 50" TV with over 200 satellite channels, DSN line, calling cards, free Wi-Fi, three Netbooks, fax/printer/copier/ machine, books, stamps, magazines, playing cards, sewing kits and toys. And, a kitchen with two microwaves, coffee machine, sandwiches, pastries, chips, cereals, soups, hot and cold beverages. Plus, two bunk rooms with 20 sleeping bunks for men, and 6 for women's and a baby crib. The bathroom has a changing table and toiletries. All free of charge!
MILITARY GUESTS - Over 768, 000 active-duty military have passed through the AFSC, since November 22, 1970.
CONTACT INFORMATION - Web site: mnafsc.org / Office: (612) 726-9156 / Fax: (612) 726-9232 / Address: Armed Forces Service Center, 4300 Glumack Dr. LT3693, Minneapolis/St.Paul Intl Airport, St. Paul MN 55111
TAX STATUS - The AFSC is a nonprofit 501(c) 3 organization. Federal Tax ID Number 41-0966145.
STAFF - Two part-time staffers are responsible for the day-to-day operations of the AFSC.
VOLUNTEERS – We have two volunteers scheduled per four-hour shift. We have approximatelt 150 volunteers.
PRESS - WCCO TV 'Troop Greeters’ 200th Military Charter Flight, March 10, 2011. http://minnesota.cbslocal.com/2011/03/11/the-volunteers-behind-the-troop-greeters/
• How have you touched the lives of military families? What has been your or your organization’s impact on the lives of military families? Please provide examples. ***As a 24 hour military based airport facility, we serve as an "oasis" for military personnel and their families. In addition to, our meet-n-greet efforts, we have provided transportation for R&R combat troops trying to get home 1-2 hours away from MSP. And, assisted families in various ways***
1. Sent: Tuesday, August 23, 2011 3:35 PM
Subject: Thank you
Armed Forces Service Center,
On Friday August 19th I was returning from my friend Jon Tumilson's funeral in Rockford Iowa. Jon was killed in Afghanistan during Special Operations Combat Operations when his helicopter was shot down during a rescue mission. Immediately following his ceremony I left for the airport, in uniform and feeling an emotional roller coaster from a 2 1/2 hour drive alone thinking about my friend Jon. Shortly after arriving at the Minneapolis Airport I was greeted by a Armed Forces Volunteer. She welcomed me to the center, allowed me to change into civilian attire in a private room, and I was able to regain my thoughts and emotions. I just wanted to thank the worker (her name eludes me) and all that work/volunteer at the center. You truly picked me up when I needed it. Thank you, SO1 Goffigan
2. Sent: Saturday, July 16, 2011 8:09 AM
Subject: Thank you
To the volunteers at Minnesota Armed Forces Service Center:
Last night, around midnight, my young, Airman son, was stranded in the MN/StP airport while on the way back to his wife from an assignment. He found your Armed Forces Service Center and was welcomed as family. As hundreds of thousands of times prior, for America's finest*, volunteers offered him a bed and other amenities in order to make him comfortable. Thank you for taking care of my son. Thank you for your service, love and devotion. Michael Hobson
PS. I also wish to thank you for giving the same courtesy to our allies. While he was there, he visited with a British SAS. He told me that he could only understand about half of what the young Brit said, and I suspect that the reverse was also true. Cockney and Deep Southern dialects probably do not mix very well - camaraderie, however, always will.
3. From: 1st LAR [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Tuesday, September 30, 2008 12:48 AM
Subject: To the 4 AFSC "angels" who cared for our men
Hello there AFSC volunteers/angels,
My name is Michelle King and I am a spouse of one of those marine's who had the pleasure of being "cared for" by you just about 2 weeks ago now. I am also what we call the Key Volunteer Coordinator for 1st LAR battalion and one of my wives got a hold of the article and journal entry done by one of the volunteers. We knew they were held up at St Paul airport and were being taken care of, but in no way had any idea how well they were being cared for. It is always nice to hear about our guys and we have to say a BIG thank you to you all for your service and dedication to the troops. The men of 1st LAR battalion have now safely arrived to their final destination and with your help the trip was all that much better. God bless each and everyone of you and may you continue to be a blessing to those in need. Warmest regards~~~Michelle King, 1st LAR battalion KVC
4. Sent: Thursday, September 18, 2008 10:28 PM
Subject: tHANK YOU ON BEHALf OF MY SON
My son is preparing to leave your airport as I write this. He has been there with the 1st Marine Div. 1St lar for the last 24 hours. He had so many good things to say about your organization I just had to thank you myself. He couldn't say enough about how well taken care of they were during their stay. When a Mom can't be there for her child it's comforting to know there are folks like you to step in. I am a volunteer for MarineParents Inc and I can't wait to spread the news about you guys. thank you again. Joni Dafflitto
5. Sent: Monday, September 29, 2008 10:25 PM
Subject: my marine was there for "camp layover"
I just wanted to tell you and your volunteers thank you from the bottom of my heart for taking such wonderful care of our Marines during their extremely long layover. My brother was there and said he was treated wonderfully and it made him so happy to have people treat him so nice before he went back to Iraq. It truly made his day(s). I wish there were more people who did these kinds of things. I know it made me feel 100 percent better knowing he wasnt sleeping on a cold hard floor with people being rude to him on his last night in the US. So once again thank you thank you thank you for being Gods special angels for these troops. You dont realize how many lives you touch besides the soldiers in the airport. The families thank you as well. God bless you all. Valerie Boswell
6. Sent: Monday, March 17, 2008 7:49 AM
Subject: Thank You, Debra - Blue Star Moms
I want to thank you again for all your help on Friday in getting the moms into the airport to spend time with Michael Anderson. It was a truly amazing evening and Michael is a remarkable young man! His smile and personality just shine and his committment to the Army and to this country, well, it would make any mother proud! We had dinner at Ike's, there in the airport. Our waitress, Michelle was awesome. Come to find out that her son is an Army veteran. A couple behind us bought Michael a beer and thank us all for our sons. Then the young mom sitting across from us, with two little boys, came over to shake Michael's hand and thank the moms. After her and her children left, Michelle told us that she had paid our entire bill!! We were all so blown away. Michael just kept saying, "I'm no one special." A very humble and proud soldier. Debra, thank you, thank you, thank you! Your footwork and contacts are what made it possible for we moms to spend this wonderful evening with this Hero! All of us are so grateful that we were able to take part and to meet this young man. If there is anything the Blue Star Mothers can to do to help there at the Service Center or be of assistance in any way, please do not hesitate to call. Thank you again!
Cindy McLean, Proud Army Mom of Chris, 10th Mountain / President, St Paul Chapter Blue Star Mothers / MN Vice President Blue Star Mothers
7. Sent: Monday, June 20, 2011 11:18 AM
Subject: Radio show (UNCLASSIFIED)
I just listened to the MN Military Radio Hour and you were great! I knew you did great work down there, I just didn't realize "how much" you do! You were so informative and so pleasant, Thanks for doing such a wonderful job. Take care and have a productive week,
Lil Forseth, MN Family Readiness Support Assistant
Military Personnel Services Corporation
34th Combat Aviation Brigade / 600 Cedar Street / St. Paul, MN 55101
8. Sent: Wednesday, June 22, 2011 4:50 PM
Subject: Thank You
To whom it may concern,
On 21 June, my 17 year old daughter Mattison Foster was traveling alone from Omaha to Philadelphia to play in a softball tournament. She travels quite frequently around the country to play with national level softball teams. We have been very fortunate, but due to weather in Omaha, she was unable to meet her connecting flight in Minneapolis. She called me at 1900 to tell me that she missed it, and the next flight was at 0715 the next morning.
You can imagine the dispair her Mother and I felt knowing that our little girl (she will always be 8 to me) was stuck alone overnight, without anyone to supervise her, or those around her. After calming her, and her mother, down - I recalled traveling numerous times through MSP with the military. Either on my way to or from deployment, or just making way across the country for training or what not. I remembered the outstanding and very accomodating Armed Forces Service Center. I remembered a bed, food, and a little piece of home. Never did I imagine that one day, that place would be a safe haven for my dependant daughter. I immediately called the number on your website. Enter Susan and Debbie, they assured me that they would be waiting on her once she found her way there. What a relief. Matti called me from there several minutes later, I could immediately hear the calm in her voice. Being around what she knows...Soldiers and Sailors, Airmen and Marines and the comfort and safety that she has felt all her life.
She enjoyed a sandwich and a few cold beverages while she watched "the military channel" until I told her she could probably change the channel and no one would mind. Matti called me this morning at 0530 when she was awakened by a staff member, making sure she was up to make her connection. She made her connection, and is currently playing 3 games today with her team and several Moms that are chaperoning. No worse for the wear, and more confident from having survived what could have been a quite scary and a sleepless night.
Words can not describe our gratitude for you, your organization, and great Americans like Susan and Debbie. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you so much for serving us, and being our home away from home, a port in the storm! Matthew Foster, CDR(sel) USN
9. Subject: Thank You.
Date: Saturday, December 27, 2008, 6:24 PM
I would like to thank you for providing our service men and women a place to go to while traveling. My son, Corporal Trevor Warner, is staying at the AFSC tonight. It puts my mind at ease that he is someplace safe and was able to call us to update us on his flight delay. Unfortunately we live 3 hours away and would have had to turn back around with bad road conditions to go get him if it wasn't for kind people such as yourselves that look out for our countries finest. He was able to come home for Christmas after 3 long years of being in Korea & made this Christmas extra special. Your organization helped make our holidays brighter too by assisting our soldier. I cannot express my appreciation enough to all of you. Thank you & God Bless. Kathy Booker-Lammle
10. Sent: Monday, December 01, 2008 12:09 PM
To: ' AFSC'
Subject: RE: Marine Welcome
Are you with the group that welcomed the 4th AABN, A Company Marines returning from Iraq at the St. Paul airport on Wednesday, November 19? (I’m a grateful mom)
Please extend my thanks to your volunteers. You know not only parents appreciate all you do when Marines tell us what a surprise your welcome was and how nice the people were. They also couldn’t get over how green it was. The only disappointment for my son was that there was no snow!
As an aside, the 4th AABN, A Company safely arrived on schedule in Norfolk Tuesday, November 25, and got to spend Thanksgiving at home. In addition to being thankful for that special holiday, we were thankful for your efforts. Deane C. Geier, Bridgewater College
11. Sent: Tuesday, December 04, 2007 4:29 PM
Subject: A Heartfelt Thank You
MSP Armed Forces Service Center,
I am terribly sorry that this is so late. However, I wanted to take the time to express my sincerest appreciation and thanks for your organization and volunteers. My family and I transited the MSP airport in late June enroute from Japan to Minot AFB, ND. We were traveling with a pet and three children and had been traveling in excess of 24 hours when we arrived to MSP. The staff at your facility were extremely friendly and helpful, especially with allowing our pet (who was kenneled) to stay in your waiting/lobby area while we napped waiting on our flight to Minot ND. My children were able to sleep in your sleeping areas and were very comfortable.
Thank you again for your outstanding facility and warm welcome. My family and I are truly appreciative of your accommodations, service, and warm welcome. Sincerely, KEVIN W. CARMICHAEL, Capt, USAF