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American Airlines Partners with Melwood to Serve Injured Veterans with Third Consecutive Three Million Mile Donation

January 07, 2019

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James Tyll
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American Airline Staff also volunteered time
to beautify Melwood veterans retreat site


Upper Marlboro, MD - American Airlines’ three-million-mile donation will allow even more injured veterans and active duty military to attend Operation Tohidu®, Melwood’s signature healing retreat.

“We are proud to stand with American Airlines in providing critical help to veterans and active duty military personnel struggling with post-traumatic stress, brain injury or military sexual trauma,” said Cari DeSantis, Melwood President & CEO. “For the past three years, this partnership with American Airlines has enabled veterans from throughout the U.S. to experience the healing benefits of Melwood’s Operation Tohidu.”

Operation Tohidu, comes from the Cherokee word meaning peace of mind, body, and spirit, and aims to bring these elements together for veterans to help them heal from military service-related traumas. Tohidu provides a series of weeklong guided therapeutic retreats specifically designed for women, men, couples, and victims of military sexual trauma. The experiential program focuses on vigorous outdoor activities and confidence-building exercises to help warriors, their spouses, and caregivers begin to cope with their trauma and overcome obstacles to recovery.

“American Airlines proudly supports great institutions that make an impact in the communities we serve like Melwood,” said Radney Robertson, Managing Director for American at Reagan National Airport. “American is committed to improving the lives of people in need and we are honored to continue our partnership for years to come.”

Operation Tohidu retreats are held at Melwood’s 108-acre Recreation Center in Nanjemoy, Md. Participants use ropes courses, zip lines, kayaks, equine-assisted activities, and other adventurous activities to augment educational sessions, periods of reflection, group discussions, and spiritual reinforcement throughout the retreat.

Retreats are run by a staff of veterans from Melwood Veterans Services, a nonprofit organization within the Melwood family of services. Over the years, Melwood has supported hundreds of veterans in their efforts to overcome the physical, behavioral, and emotional challenges associated with post-traumatic stress, mild traumatic brain injury, military sexual assault, and other service-related trauma.

American Airlines’ contribution will be made in the form of 3,000,000 AAdvantage Miles. This is the third year the organization has partnered with Melwood to facilitate air travel for Operation Tohidu® participants.

“As a veteran with post-traumatic stress myself, I am passionate about helping my fellow warriors on their journey beyond the service-related traumas they endured,” Gen. David Blackledge, Executive Vice President of Melwood Veterans Services, said. “American Airlines support for Operation Tohidu speaks volumes about their commitment to our nation’s heroes.”