Monday, August 15, 2005

Project Valour-IT: In Memory of...

We interrupt the regularly scheduled program on terrorism and women's rights in Iraq to announce a totally blog inspired charity project to help our wounded soldiers. In conjunction with Soldiers' Angels and Fuzzybear Lioness, the Fighting Fusileers for Freedom give you Project VALOUR IT.

You may not be familiar with Capt. Chuck Zeigenfuss writing at From My Position. He was injured in Iraq a little over a month ago when investigating a report of an IED. When he arrived at the position, while looking for this potential bomb to call the EOD team in, the IED exploded, causing shrapnel injuries to his legs, causing him to lose several fingers and some hearing in his ears. A number of fellow commenters and bloggers have been following his progress on his blog as his wife posted updates.

As Chuck recovered, he wanted to start blogging again, but experienced a lot of difficulty typing with his injured hands. A small project got underway to find Capt. Z voice recognition software so that he could resume blogging and also do emails to his commrades still in theater in Iraq. He received the software and began using it. In very short order, Fuzzy bear Lioness, a regular at Castle Arrggh! conceived of an idea to help other wounded soldiers who, through amputation or type of injury, could not type on a keyboard get access to computers with a similar software package.

A totally blog inspired and blog created project began. FbL is working with Soldier's Angels, a non profit organization that sends care packages to serving soldiers, connects them with pen pals, helps wounded soldiers with necessities and helps their families with financial assistance travelling and staying with their wounded family members.

This blog inspired project is called "Project VALOUR-IT", (Voice-Activated Laptops for OUR Injured Troops).

Project Valour IT, in memory of SFC William V. Ziegenfuss, provides voice-controlled software and laptop computers to wounded Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines recovering from hand and arm injuries or amputations at major military medical centers. Operating laptops by speaking into a microphone, our wounded heroes are able to send and receive messages from friends and loved ones, surf the 'Net, and communicate with buddies still in the field without having to press a key or move a mouse. The experience of CPT Charles "Chuck" Ziegenfuss, a partner in the project who suffered hand wounds while serving in Iraq, illustrates how important this voice-controlled software can be to a wounded servicemember's recovery.

The great thing about this charity, besides being a blog inspired program, is that every cent, EVERY CENT of your donation is spent on purchasing the laptops and software. There is no administrative costs taken out. Every person working on this project is a volunteer taking no compensation for their time and effort to assist our wounded men and women.

The project expects to be able to deliver laptops to military hospitals where they will be kept and loaned out to injured soldiers while residing in the hospitals. Afterwards, any soldier still needing voice activated software will be provided a free copy of the program to use with their home computers.

You can read more about the expectations of the project here.

Some fantastic companies have partnered with the project and will be providing laptops and software at seriously discounted prices. One laptop with software will cost a meer $625.00, which means that, with your help, we could be providing the first 25 laptops in a matter of weeks.

You may be wondering why you should give to this project, particularly if you have participated in other charity programs, sent care packages to our soldiers, became a pen pal with a soldier, or gave money to Soldier's Angels before. All of these programs are fantastic and serve our soldiers well, but it is often the wounded soldier, having left his post for treatment at home, that is forgotten after the media anouncement of his injury. These soldiers spend long weeks and months recovering at hospitals around the United States, sometimes with little to look forward to other than sleeping, eating, therapy, television and reading. If they are lucky, a member of their family can take time from work and spend the entirety of their recovery with them through great organizations like "Fischer House".

Unfortunately, that's not true of all of our soldiers and their families. They are also suddenly away from friends and people that they consider as their brothers who are still on active duty in harms way. They have little, if no way, to stay in contact with their friends and loved ones while recuperating except through email, which is difficult when there are few computers and none with voice activated software for these special soldiers.

Recovery and therapy can be a strain when these soldiers are worried about how they will keep in contact with family when that family must go home or worried about their friends still in harms way. These soldiers also must deal with a myriad of financial and personal issues that can be accomplished through the computer and internet if they only had a way to do it. Some could also take classes to improve their education status, look for jobs that they will need when they are discharged or simply use the computer as we do, surfing the internet for information and entertainment.

This project can ease these soldiers' way and help in their recuperation.

Soldiers' blogs have also been our window to a war we could not otherwise understand or feel connected to through other sources of information. Like Capt Z, these men and women could have a way to express themselves and continue with something that they were doing when life was "normal", another process in helping people recuperate after a traumatic injury.

You can help. It doesn't take much. We have the power of numbers. A donation of $5.00 could be the amount that sends one more laptop to our injured heroes.

Make a donation today. It's tax deductible. If you prefer to send a check, send donations to:

Soldiers Angels
1792 East Washington Blvd.
Pasadena, CA 91104

Include your name, address, phone number and email address with the donation and if you have any questions about donating you can call (615) 676-0239.

I donated $25.00 to the project today. I challenge you to meet or beat that donation. Hit the "dispatch/contact me" button on the left sidebar and tell me how much you donated. The person that donates the most will get a complimentary mug, t-shirt, mouse pad, journal or any other item listed at the Castle Arrggh! Freedom Store.

You can also help by spreading the word. Send a link to the project to other friends and family who might be interested in helping our wounded soldiers.

Castle Arrggh! Operation Order 1: Task Force Fusileer
Castle Arrghh! List of Project Valour IT Contributing Blogs

Thank you for your time and any assistance you can give.

Update: Links

And Rightly So
Raven reminds us that voice activated software can give injured patients back a measure of independence. Computers can be used to turn on and operate all kinds of electronic devices in the home and even in cars through voice activated software, vastly improving confidence and recovery since the mind is the most important part of healing.
Vince aut Morire
Flight Pundit
Cat House Chat
Merri's Musings
Righty in a Lefty State

In honor of Donald Kuehl, veteran of two military branches

Private First Class United States Army, Army of Occupation Germany

Son of German immigrants, he heard the news of Pearl Harbor while sitting down to dinner after church when he was eleven. He joined the Army when he was seventeen. Stationed in Germany, he acted as a translater, took part in the Berlin airlift and collected packages from family and friends back in the States to distribute to relatives who still lived in Germany. He never forgot that some of our family was lost behind the Iron Curtain for fifty years.

Airman First Class United States Airforce, Korean War.

There are still some boxes I need to go through. I think there are medals still in their boxes.

He was discharged from service when he was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis and survived another 37 years, eventually becoming wheelchair bound with crippled hands, he still managed to drive, travel to Mexico, marry late in life and out live his wife who died of cancer ten years ago. He never let his disability stop him and he managed live a normal life using a multitude of high and low tech devices.

His passion was 1000 piece puzzles that we would put together on rainy Saturdays at the retirement home.




Donate to Project VALOUR-IT and help another soldier live a normal life.

1 comment:

Donal said...

My condolences on your loss Kat. Its a sad day for America when another of her heroes dies.