Military Liaison Office

A busy MLO; Photo by Tasha Acosta of TAA.

A busy MLO; Photo by Tasha Acosta of TAA.

Jerry Lujan

The Tucson International Airport (TUS) provides a positive first and last impression of Tucson for air travelers. What many people do not know is that it also provides a wonderful service to traveling military personnel, their families and veterans. This service is provided at the Military Liaison Office (MLO) visited by 5,000 people in 2013 from all military branches.

The MLO is a place where transiting service members can spend down time while waiting for onward transportation. Placed between Baggage Belts No. 4 and No. 5 and open 24/7, dedicated space allows for its central location and some peace and quiet. They can enjoy snacks or microwave meals, watch TV, play video games, read or even get some shuteye while they wait for their next flight or transportation to Ft. Huachuca.

The room is kitted out with furniture and equipment including comfortable sofas, tables, chairs, desks, bookcases, a refrigerator, microwave, coffee makers, a water generator, computers, games and books for children and TVs as well as blankets and pillows.

The space for the MLO is provided by Tucson Airport Authority (TAA). It first opened in 1972 and was staffed by personnel from Ft. Huachuca. It closed for a short time due to staffing. It reopened again under the umbrella of TAA’s Airport Ambassador Program. This resulted from a meeting with several interested parties which included SaddleBrooke’s own Diane Shrager from the Tucson Troop Support Group.

The Oro Valley Home Depot and Behr Paint Company donated paint and material for volunteers to freshen up the MLO walls in 2010. Most recently plaques of the military services emblems were added by other volunteers.

The MLO has snacks, sodas and water provided by the Tucson Troop Support Group, Daughters of the American Revolution Casa Grande Chapter and until recently candy from Walgreen’s Treats for the Troops through the 162nd Air National Guard. Candy is now donated by passengers shopping at Paradies Desert House News and Gifts. Paradies collects anything from their shops, especially phone cards, in their Support our Troops bins. The next time you fly out of Tucson, make it a point to stop in the Paradies Shop and make a donation. Everything in the MLO is absolutely free to military personnel.

Also the next time you are in the terminal, go down to Baggage Belts No. 4 and 5 and look for the overhead Military Liaison sign and an American flag outside the room. Inside you will see a white metal box on the room partition; slip in a $20. It will be put to good use.

Volunteering is a good way to show support and personally give thanks to our military. Several SaddleBrooke residents do so by volunteering at the MLO. They set their own schedule but must first complete an Airport Ambassador Orientation Program run by TAA Ground Transportation and Terminal Properties Coordinator Dee Brunner. For more information on how to become a volunteer please contact Dee at 520-573-8374.

This military liaison office’s refreshments, treats, toiletries, space and entertainment are provided at no charge for our visiting military members by: American Legion Post No. 36, AMVETS Post No. 770 Color Guard, Anonymous Donors, Arizona Air National Guard 162nd Wing, City of Tucson Veterans Affairs Committee, Daughters of the American Revolution Casa Grande Chapter and Friends of the MLO, an Ad Hoc Committee of the SaddleBrooke Fine Arts Guild, Paradies/Desert House New Gifts via passenger donations at airport gift shops’ collection bins, Tucson Airport Authority, Tucson Troop Support Group and USO Arizona.