We owe all of our troops a huge thank you for all they do. West Michigan is known for it's love and compassion, that will go without saying. And this Thanksgiving holiday, a big welcome home and other festivities are on tap for the returning men and women in the military, at the Gerald R. Ford International Airport.

On Wednesday, November 23rd, airport volunteers including therapy dog teams, and the Patriot Guard Riders will participate in “Operation Handshake,” an event to welcome home returning military members and veterans, and to thank them for their service.

Volunteers will staff both airport concourses from 9am to 7pm, and airport staff will be passing out treats and trinkets to thank passengers for utilizing the airport during the busy time of year.

“We know that not every member of our military can make it home during the holidays, but for those returning to West Michigan we want to make it special and let them know we are thankful for their service,” said GFIA Acting President & CEO Phil Johnson.

The event is free and open to the public. The airport is asking family members to notify the Patriot Guard Riders of returning military members’ arrival times and flight information. Information can be sent to michigan@patriotguard.org or Tony VanGessel at 616-862-1984.

By the way, don't forget the Airport is currently under construction on its Gateway Transformation Project, and along with the busy holiday traffic, lines could be longer than normal. The Airport encourages passengers to arrive at least 90-120 minutes before their flight. TSA also encourages passengers to stay up-to-date on the latest travel notices and information about what you can or cannot bring on your flight by visiting: www.tsa.gov.

For more information on the Patriot Guard Riders, visit http://www.patriotguardmi.org