Richmond International Airport Center Director, Tricia Riggs, read an article about the USO-NC Charlotte Dignified Transfer Team, a carefully selected group of volunteers who had the personality and passion for the mission to help military families navigate this most crippling of challenges.
Immediately recognizing that this model was ideal for her center, she set about carefully selecting a team of two staff members and four volunteers whom she believed would have the capacity to honor the families and the service member while managing their own emotional response. When she approached the airport authority with her idea, she was met with a resounding yes.
Tricia purchased black logo polos for her team and required them to pair the shirts with khakis when serving in this special capacity. They would be immediately recognizable as well as exhibit a professional appearance. Delta Airlines and the RIC Airport Police began the training process, with American Airlines joining forces to utilize this team of dedicated staff and volunteers. Of course, if a transfer is made through any other airline, the team steps up.
The Dignified Transfer Team exists to escort the families through the airport, to the tarmac and plane side for the transfer ceremony. This not only provides the family with a sense that they are not alone, but it also allows the police and airlines to focus on what they need to do without having to manage the families in a secure area.
Regardless of weather conditions, the team members provide comfort and respect and help the grieving families realize they are not alone through this process. Team members all have a military connection and include, in addition to Tricia, RIC Volunteer Coordinator Brandy Lipscomb, Lee Smith, Steve Zachry, David Hartley and Linda Terrill. Our deep appreciation goes out these individuals for their willingness to do this very difficult and heartbreaking job.
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