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Answering the Call

The Heroes of Aerial Group

Article by Sue Baldani

Photography by Provided by Aerial Group

Originally published in Belle Meade Lifestyle

At the age of 12, when most kids are thinking about going to the mall or hanging out with friends, Britnie Faith Turner had much more serious issues on her mind. One of six homeschooled kids living on a farm, Britnie was very sheltered from many of the world's harsher realities. That changed when her grandmother came to visit. 

"She showed us this documentary on sex trafficking, and it was so heartbreaking," she says. "I was awakened to the fact that these horrible atrocities existed, and I decided that I didn't want to live the rest of my life doing nothing about it."

Britnie believes that if something moves you to heightened anger or sadness, it's probably tied to your calling in life. Twenty-four years later, she answered this call many times over. Over the years, she has traveled to Africa, South America, Haiti and other island nations to combat this insidious industry.  

In 2016, Forbes recognized her company, Aerial Development Group, founded in 2009 at the age of 21, as the 6th Fastest Growing Woman-Owned, Women-Led Company in the World. "The name Aerial is a constant reminder to keep the big picture in mind, remembering your purpose is bigger than any obstacle that could ever come against you." 

Since its founding, Aerial Group has grown tremendously. It has multiple entities under its brand, such as Aerial Development Group, Aerial Builders, Aerial Properties, Aerial B&B, Aerial Produced, The Aerial, BVI (British Virgin Islands), and a newly launched retreat space called The Aerial, Nashville.

"I got involved in disaster relief after the hurricanes hit BVI in 2017 and was very frustrated by how inefficient most response teams were," says Britnie. "In April of 2019, I started dating a Green Beret." His name was Jeremy Locke, and he would later become her husband and the co-founder of Aerial Recovery, Aerial's impact arm, a 501c3. "I was planning a mission trip to utilize all of what I had learned in 2017 to help after Hurricane Dorian devastated several islands in the Bahamas. Jeremy asked if he could come with me, got permission to do it, and while serving people who lost everything, I watched this active duty Green Beret organize the mission, get aid to the people in need, conduct search and rescue and streamline information."

Britnie asked him if his military friends would also be good at this work, and he knew they would be. The couple learned that veterans working in the humanitarian space were using their skills to save lives, and the experience was life-giving for the veterans themselves. 

"Many of our military have experienced serious trauma," she says. "For these heroes to effectively respond and be able to keep responding to these disaster and rescue missions, we have found they are most effective when they go through a healing program." 

Britnie and Jeremy created a program called Heal the Heroes to ease this transition. "We take struggling veterans and first responders through a year-long program, which starts with a healing retreat at The Aerial, BVI," says Britnie. "Heroes graduate as Humanitarian Special Operators trained to be heroes in their homes first. These heroes are now not only loving parents and spouses but they are also trained to rescue kids from trafficking and respond to disasters globally. It seems we've found a solution to some of the world's greatest problems, and the results are that, in less than 36 months, our heroes from this program have rescued over 8,000 people." 

These heroes are nominated and sponsored by private donors. Aerial Recovery aims to host four platoons of 25 heroes each year. "We've had 156 heroes go through our program so far, and we're on track to becoming the number one intervention group in the world for human trafficking," she says.

"Human trafficking is a fight that's bigger than all of us - an over $150 billion a year industry, and there isn't even $1 billion in place to fight it - we've all got to come together to end this evil."

In addition to those willing to become Humanitarian Special Operators, Aerial Recovery also needs people to donate or be sponsors. "One of the top nonprofits in the world just dropped 14 countries for rescue missions, so we're in emergency fundraising to pick up these cases before these victims are lost forever," says Britnie. 

"You are called to be part of something bigger than yourself. Nothing is more fulfilling than walking in your purpose and integrating it into your everyday life. I encourage you to take an Aerial perspective of your life and work toward positively impacting as many people and places as possible during your one chance on this earth."

“…our heroes from this program have rescued over 8,000 people.” 

"Nothing is more fulfilling than walking in your purpose and integrating it into your everyday life."