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Friday, July 01, 2011

Voice Activated Laptops for Our Wounded Warriors

It is vitrual certainty that you are reading this on a computer or other electronic device. In order to get to this blog and to this post, most of you had to do something with your hands, whether it was clicking a mouse button or typing a few letters. Most of you send and receive email, tweets or IMs or make calls on your computer during the course of the day, Many of you play games on your computer or on other devices. Many of you track the news, listen to music, watch videos - all on computers. All using while using fingers and hands to click and keyboard.

Now, imagine that you have lost the use of your hands. Or your eyes.  Imagine that all the electronic connectedness that you have grown used to - well, it's still there, but your ability to tap into is suddenly gone.

No emails from family, no exchange of tweets with friends, no - well - nothing like life used to be. No easy internet searches, no fast shifts of music or videos.

Would that have much impact on your life?

A couple of weeks ago I met the parents of a college kid who were happy that their son was back in school and doing well. It seems that while on a trip some place he dove into water that was shallower than he thought and had done severe damage to his spinal cord. Basically paralyzed him except that he was breathing and thinking and trapped in a body that no longer served him as it once did. His parents say that before the accident he was quite the athlete with an academic scholarship to some fine school. Months of recovery have brought him some relief, some hope. But the biggest boost to this young man was that he gained the ability to use a computer by voice control. Now he takes on line college classes and he is back in the world around him - not totally dependent on someone else. It's a little freedom and a little victory for which he and his parents are immensely thankful.

I mentioned to them that some people were actively engaged in trying to do for our injured Soldiers, Marines and Sailors what they had been able to provide for their son - provide voice activated laptops to allow them to rejoin the electronic world - Project Valour-IT is path through which you and I can help some wounded warriors get back a little of the world they were temporarily missing.

Here are some facts about the program (if you want more information about Soldiers' Angels, go here and for more info on Project Valour-IT, go here):
As the number of American Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines suffering battlefield wounds continues to grow, today’s economic challenges continue to squeeze military support nonprofits. Project Valour-IT—which has supplied over 6,000 severely wounded Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines with adaptive laptops and other devices to aid their recovery and reintegration—is addressing that squeeze with a fundraising technique it pioneered: online competition.

Held July 1-14, the Valour-IT fundraising competition will draw on blogging, Facebook, Twitter and other social media to raise money and awareness for the needs of wounded troops. Divided among four “virtual teams” named in honor of U.S. military service branches, participants will also use flyers, word-of-mouth and traditional media outlets to spread the word. The goal is to raise at least $100,000, which will meet increased demand for Valour-IT services through October 2011.

“Project Valour-IT changes lives,” says Soldiers’ Angels founder Patti Patton-Bader. “Wounded heroes report that being able to use a laptop helps them feel whole again. Physical therapists are actually designing therapy sessions around Wii Sports! And something as normal as a handheld GPS reduces stress and helps a hero cope. It’s just amazing what this project does!”

Each of the devices Valour-IT supplies helps restore confidence and independence for a wounded hero. Voice-activated laptops reconnect the wounded with the world and develop self-confidence by showing soldiers they can continue to be engaged and productive despite their injuries. Servicemembers also use the laptops to research their medical care or prepare for a post-military career. Physical therapists report Wii Sports is extremely motivational and beneficial when used in physical therapy settings, and wounded personnel with short-term memory loss due to TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) and severe PTSD use GPS systems to keep from getting lost or disoriented when they move on to more independent living.
So, there's the pitch. Over the next couple of weeks the goal is to raise $100,000 and allow Valour-IT to do more of what it has been doing. You can help - just click on the link below and donate a little money to this worthy cause. It may be tax deductible and all that the best part is that you will know that you did a little something for those young men and women who have given something of themselves.

Now, you may notice that I am a member of Team Navy (which this year also includes the Coast Guard) which part of a friendly inter-service competition. There are other teams that you can give to, and you find them linked even at the site below:

Team Navy



Got a maritime oriented business? What better way to say "thanks" to those who are keeping the sea lanes open then making a donation to this cause?

Thanks!

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