Thursday, November 03, 2005

Project Valour IT - Force Multiplier

In a world, not so far away, there are men and women answering the call of duty, freedom and honor. They pay that price every day. They aren't angels and among their own, they suffer no illusion about who they are, what they do and why they do it. They pay the price with their bodies while we debate politics, enjoy our lattes, drive to work on safe streets and complain about the gas prices. While most of us are sleeping, they are standing watch, driving to work down roads where a plastic bag might mask an explosive device or a window will project an RPG round into the humvee they are riding in. They suffer catastrophic wounds to hands, arms, legs, spines and heads while we run out and buy the latest video.

They aren't perfect, but they are ours. We know them because, in a war with low daily casualties, we have time to read their names, where they are from and a paragraph or two about their life before, during and after the the military. In many ways, the low intensity of the war and the information about the wounded readily available at the touch of the mouse, it makes the war that much more personal. They aren't just names on a wall or faces flashing across the screen.

Do you know what a "force multiplier" is? It's a tool, equipment, technology or skill that allows an individual soldier, airman, marine, or seaman to produce the force or capabilities of two, three, ten and even a hundred men or women. Project Valour IT is a force multiplier.

In the new world of technology, computers are as common as calculators and are force multipliers that everyday citizens use. It's a tool we use every day to communicate, to inform, to research and to entertain. We express feelings, share ideas, get educations, work, bank, shop on line and download music. For some men and women returning from duty, the ability to use a keyboard and a mouse is greatly hindered or non-existent due to the nature of their wounds. Project Valour IT plans to help alleviate this problem by providing these wounded soldiers, sailors and marines with voice activated laptops.

As a force multiplier, Project Valour IT serves many important roles. The primary role will be as a force multiplier for healing. Wounded men and women return from battle, leaving behind other men and women still serving. They consider these men and women part of their family. When they come to a state side hospital or Landstuhl in Germany, they lose contact with this family. Their other family, mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, wives and children, can't be with them 24 hours a day or cannot stay with them while they under go long days of recovery due to family or financial obligations. These two families act as a support base for wounded soldiers who need encouragement to go on, love to lift them up and a few laughs to dispel the darkness of being so greivously wounded. Phone calls are expensive and may not be received. A voice activated laptop can change all that, acting as a force multiplier for the support base that cannot be near.

Soldiers will use this device to write emails, do instant messaging or even talk online, keeping them in touch with far flung friends and family.

As a force multiplier, it will allow wounded soldiers to take care of their financial business and go to school. Both give the soldier back control over his/her life. This sense of control is important after being confined to a hospital bed and room, unable to start a normal routine away from war; a routine that will help the soldier gain back his/her confidence. Confidence can help them believe in themselves and believe that they can do anything even after suffering such injuries greatly improving the rate of healing.

It's a force multiplier when soldiers' voices tell their stories. It's a force multiplier when it is used as entertainment that can lift a young soldier's life out of despair, anger and boredom while he waits the long hours between surgeries and rehabilitation. It's a force multiplier when it can bring the class room to the soldier who can train for a new career or plan on advancing with the military. Voice Activated Laptops for OUR Injured Troops is a force multiplier that amplifies the soldiers voice making it their fingers, hands and arms.

You can be a force multiplier for our wounded men and women. Just by reading this post, you have multiplied the power by two. What can you do to help?

First, you can read this information about Project Valour IT's goals. Then, pick your service, the Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force are competing to see who can bring in the most donations towards helping our wounded men and women get reconnected. This competition runs from November 2 to November 11, Veterans Day; a fitting tribute to our injured men and women.

If you can't donate cash, that's okay. You are valuable as a force multiplier. You can spread the word. If you're a blogger, put up a post and join one of the branches to help them meet their cash goals. You can be a force multiplier by emailing your friends and family, letting them know about this worthy cause. You can be a force multiplier by printing out flyers and putting them around your office, local businesses or other organizations.

Just by talking about this project, you become a force multiplier for our men and women in uniform.

Project Valour IT has already helped many men and women become reconnected. Captain Ziegenfuss reminds us what it meant to him to be able to do something "normal" when he couldn't even scratch his own nose.

Since my brother is in the Air Force National Guard, I feel compelled by relation to join the Air Force Team (sorry castle folk). So, click on the donate button at the top of this site or choose your branch from the links above.

All donations are tax deductible. If you prefer to send a donation by mail, you can send them to:

Soldiers Angels
Valour-IT Fund
1792 East Washington Blvd.
Pasadena, CA 91104

Our goal is $21,000 for all forces combined. This will purchase 30 laptops, software and accessories for distribution. Not a lot when you think about how we can be a force multiplier in the virtual world of the internet and in our daily lives.

As of this posting, after only a day and a half of competition, all forces have collect over $9,000 [update: 44k 11/8 competition only] dollars. We still have eight days left.

Let’s make Air Force number one!

Update: Updated information on Carren Ziegenfuss on MSNBC and the link to the video here


FbL said...

Wonderful take on the mission of Valor-IT!

I Can't find your trackback, but I linked this at my blog:

Anna said...

Awesome post. I found it through FbL above. I linked to it with my post regarding Carren Ziegenfuss's spot on MSNBC.