FORT RILEY, Kan. (WIBW) -- The phrase "We Support Our Troops" took on a whole new meaning on Fort Riley Monday as soldiers and their families received some big ticket donations.
A national nonprofit organization called Operation Homefront and a technology company called CDW wanted to make sure the service men and women could communicate with their loved ones when they're deployed.
The soldiers were presented with their laptops Monday afternoon at Fort Riley's Conference Center.
Operation Homefront released the following information on the event: "Operation Homefront, in collaboration with CDW Government LLC (CDW-G), a leading provider of technology solutions to government, education and healthcare customers, will present laptop computers to service members in the rank of private through sergeant and their families from the 1st Infantry Division at Fort Riley.
Troops rely on correspondence from family members during demanding deployments, and while many soldiers have access to email while deployed at remote outposts, including sites throughout Iraq and Afghanistan, the situation is often different for their families back home. The families of many soldiers beginning their Army careers are often not able to afford computers. As a result, they must rely on conventional mail, which can take weeks to arrive, or costly phone calls to stay in touch. Operation Homefront strives to support these American soldiers deployed overseas by linking them more effectively with their families through email communication and other electronic means using computers donated by sponsors such as CDW-G."
"Operation Homefront and CDW Corporation really want to put something tangible behind the expression “We Support Our Troops.” We are here to donate about 150 notebook computers to young soldiers and their families... We want the soldiers to stay connected while they’re deployed. They have access to the internet once they are in theater whether it be Iraq or Afghanistan but the families of many of the more junior soldiers sometimes are financially strapped and cannot afford a home computer so we wanted to fulfill that need and provide them with the ability to stay connected without having to go to the library or the family readiness computer room. We thought if the spouse of the service member could stay at home and be in communication with his or loved one down range, we thought that we were fulfilling a niche that heretofore as not been taken care of," said retired Brigadier General John Howard, member of the Operation Homefront Board of Directors.
"I am a Vietnam veteran and in the Vietnam era, we were regulated to mail so you send a letter from Vietnam and by the time you got a response to your letter, it could be 3-4 weeks. The generation that we’re working with today is connected…. So we feel that we could provide some communication capabilities to families that don’t have it and that is the genesis of this program. It’s a great feeling. All you have to do is look into the eyes and smiles of these young soldiers and their families and it makes it all worthwhile," he added.
Corporal Jonathan Bailey, his wife and their five children now have a way to stay in touch when he deploys in 2012.
"Obviously as a family of seven, the budget only goes so far and to be able to get a computer like this is something that we just can’t outright afford so it’s a gift for us and it’s something that we’ll be able to utilize instantly so we’re real thankful for it," Corporal Bailey told 13 News.
"It means hopefully a lot more nights with daddy once he deploys here in the spring," his wife added.
PFC Avery Hoxworth shared the same sentiment about receiving a laptop for his family. He says he will be able to catch his newborn twins' milestones.
"With the newborns, it definitely opens up the communication issues that we’re probably going to have. We were looking at getting a laptop but with the twins, there’s definitely a budget crunch. There’s going to be a lot of moments I’m going to miss but with a laptop, it’ll definitely help," Hoxworth said.
Most of the soldiers at the event will be deploying to Afghanistan in 2012, according to officials.