Tag Archive for Valour-IT

Soldier’s Angels VALOur-IT Fund Drive 2010

Technology moves ahead in unpredictable ways, sometimes.

History lesson below, for the interested. For those who are ready and need to donate and move on: Click here.

If you’re looking to help an old Sailor out, then “push” the button for Navy. Know this: It all goes into the same pot, but, the need to poke at our fellow military members doesn’t go away easily, so…resist the urge to help any service team other than Navy…..

Now to some background:

Barely 5 years ago, a “MilBlogger,” and Army Captain Chuck Ziegenfuss, ended up on the wrong end of an IED when on patrol in Iraq and subsequently in Walter Reed Medical Center. Having been a fairly active poster, when a Soldier’s Angels representative asked if he needed anything, he asked for a laptop so he could blog from the hospital, since he’d be there a while. They bought one off of eBay.

He had injuries to both arms, leaving him with one in a cast, and the other in a halo. Typing, as you may surmise, was pretty tough. He posted indicating he sure could use some help…maybe so he could talk to his computer.

Some people helped him out getting Dragon Naturally Speaking. As a result, Chuck’s Blog came back to life.

As a result of that, the idea that this mashup of existing tech would be able to help others. The conception of the idea came from one of Chuck’s reader’s, Beth (FuzzyBear Lioness in the comments section), who thought if it worked for Chuck, who else might it help?

So, the first use of the Project’s Name happened 8/18/2005.

Now we are but 5 years and a few months later, over $600K collected, about 50 bloggers on the teams, and begging for air time on the big websites (and getting some!), with close to 6000 laptops delivered. They are new. They are good ones, and they are provided at the Major military medical facilities, and, they can be requested, if someone has slipped by the system unnoticed.

I believe it was last year, they added the purchasing and providing of Nintendo Wiis, which has helped with physcial therapy for the injured warriors. GPS units are now also provided to those who are getting out and about, to compensate for the short term memory loss issues as a result of TBI and severe PTSD injuries.

The “gateway” to the many pages of information and the project blog is here.

One particularly descriptive post titled “Laptops Save Lives?!” has the words of the real “end users” of the charity of the donors of this work. It may be from 2007, but the truth is right there. This is a great project, which really “gives back” to those who entered the services and gave much of themselves.

Besides just the close to the problem connection, from a problem solving standpoint, I see this as a job training program for the majority of these wounded troops, as they will be medically retired/discharged. If they have used a computer to get and stay in contact with their families, friends and “Battle Buddies,” they sure will be able to draft up a business letter, surf the net to do research and learn to crunch numbers with Excel for the employer who wants a person who looks forward into life and works to achieve their potential.

I could go on for many pages, having personally met Chuck and Beth, and Patti, the Founder of Soldier’s Angels via these campaigns over the 5 years. The stories are real, the ideas amazing, and the unselfish acts to take an idea from one person to many is a lesson in building relationships.

Once more: Donate here to Team Navy!

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Tuesday Tech Tips

Technology is both a curse and a blessing. In the case of the Soldier’s Angels VALOur-IT, it is a real blessing. Think about sitting at your computer, looking at the screen, and, if you choose, leaving me a comment on this post. If you can use your hands, even if you are a hunt and peck typer, you are blessed.

Now, consider those who have been wounded and can either not see to type and read, or use their hands to operate the keyboard, as a result of an injury while serving in combat, or even an accident while wearing the uniform of the Nation.

What if you could help them be able to communicate as you and I are now? What could that mean in the end game of a few bucks, or a lot of them? The widget on my sidebar gets you to the donation page. You can also help out and get some good things in the eBay, as there are many, many cool things there, too.

My best guess? well, the first part isn’t a guess: I heard Chuck Ziegenfuss say that the ability of the laptop with voice activated software had him asking the medical staff to cut back on his pain medication so he wouldn’t doze off while trying to use the notebook. I’ve also heard him say (and he’s stayed plugged into the program) others have done the same thing. He says the computers are used to talk to friends and family, but even more importantly to get in contact with their units and that has been a huge morale booster. The bonds formed in the service, and especially in combat, are strong and the drive to stay in touch a primary goal. Chuck indicated the people still in theater are excited to hear from their buddies, as they last saw them headed out in a MEDEVAC and the contact lets them know how their friend is doing.

This part, I speculate on, but I think I’m pretty much on target: The exposure to using a computer by voice control provides skills to operate computers anywhere, such as in an business environment, be it the retired service member’s own business, or one they work for.

The long term effect? Skilled men and women who can enter the work force and be productive, like their able-bodied counterparts.

To wrap it up: Your donation helps individuals, but also the economy.

Your choice. How about it? Put some port to the troops in the form of a few dollars. Trust me, you’re helping the country and people, too.

And, if anyone reading this works with the disabled, I bet the staff at Soldier’s Angels would be happy to consult on the best way to make this happen for anyone who has suffered injuries that limit their normal abilities to use a computer. They’ve been there, done that and they are great, giving people.

Soldiers Angels Fund Drive: Laptops with Voice Software for the Wounded Troops

This post will remain at the top of the posts through 11/11/2009, when the drive ends. Look below for new posts.

I resonate with this effort from Soldiers Angels on several levels. It’s proper name is “VALOur-IT” (Voice activated Laptops for Our Injured Troops). Technology, but technology to a real world application, and specifically one to help those who volunteered, knowing thier wounds were a likely outcome of serving the nation. On top of that, it will provide a practical platform for these wounded warriors to be able to work with computers in their jobs in the future. It’s a win-win-win from my viewpoint.

It begins today, the drive to make a difference for those who have suffered in defense of the nation, and defense of others around the world.

From a practical need for a blogger and a blog reader sprang a project that has now aided over 4000 wounded warriors in getting some normalcy into their lives. The project blog is here.

Even a few bucks adds up. Times are lean, but consider the “leaness” for those who will never recover what they have lost in the service.

Thanks for helping out. Please pass the word around, too.

If you want to hear the story of how this all began, Hugh Hewitt did an interview with Chuck Zeigenfuss. The audio is at this link. It will take a little to get to the interview, then it runs until about minute 8, but it’s a great story of what blogging has spawned.

If you have no preference for a service team to donate to, please drop your funds under the Navy, but know they still go into the same pot at the end of the day.