American service men and women are a frequent sight at the Bangor International Airport in Maine; many troops returning from overseas assignments pass through the airport as they make their way home or to their next mission. Since the United States invasion of Iraq in 2003, over 800,000 U.S. soldiers have arrived at Bangor International, and nearly all of them have been met by Bill Knight, Joan Gaudet, and Jerry Mundy. Calling themselves "the Maine Troop Greeters," Knight, Gaudet, and Mundy are three senior citizens who see to it that every soldier returning to America is given a warm and encouraging welcome, a hug or a handshake, and the use of a cell phone so they can call their loved ones, no matter when their plane touches down. While the Greeters have their own troubles to deal with -- failing health, the loss of loved ones, loneliness -- their work with the soldiers gives them both a sense of purpose and a perspective that makes their own troubles easier to bear. Joan Gaudet's son Aron Gaudet
is a filmmaker, and his documentary The Way We Get By
chronicles the work of the Maine Troop Greeters, the story behind the three tireless volunteers, and how their project has touched the men and women they welcome nearly every day. The Way We Get By
was an official selection at the 2009 South By Southwest Film Festival.