Messages from home bring joy afar

20 Jul 2003 | Cpl. Kristin S. Gambrell

The cost of a book of stamps to send letters to a deployed service member: $7.40; average monthly Internet cost to send e-mails to a deployed service member: $39.95; receiving a free two-minute video e-mail from a loved one: PRICELESS.

The American Red Cross, Onslow County Chapter, teamed up with America Online for Broadband to support "Project Video Connect: We're here until they're home" in the Jacksonville and Camp Lejeune area.  This project will run now until June 1. 

The purpose of the project is to allow unaccompanied, overseas service members and their families to send video messages to each other from Red Cross locations around the world via AOL, said Elizabeth J. Sisto, volunteer, Onslow County American Red Cross Chapter.  Project participants can send the messages free-of-charge using a special video-messaging program. 

The process for sending a message is simple and only takes a few minutes.  Those interested can stop by their local Red Cross and use the computers and equipment that are set up there.  Step-by-step directions make the equipment easy to use.

American Red Cross chapters throughout the United States and around the world are implementing the program.

"We are truly thrilled to be in a position to support Project Video Connect.  Red Cross chapters continually look for ways to support the families of military and emergency services personnel, especially when it comes to communications," said Joy Branham, executive director, Onslow County American Red Cross Chapter. "(The project) is a significant enhancement to our services and will certainly make a huge impact on morale."

"The Internet continues to be a powerful tool in enabling people to stay in touch with loved ones in the military - more easily and frequently than during previous wars," added Carlos Silva, vice president, AOL Broadband.  "By launching Project Video Connect, we hope to now bring families, separated by war and peacekeeping efforts throughout the world, a little bit closer by giving them an opportunity to send personal video messages to each other."