Oct 16, 2012

Google+ Hangouts Allow Aging Veterans to See Memorials

The World War II memorial wasn’t built until 2004 and, sadly, most World War II veterans won’t live long enough to see it. In an effort to get veterans to Washington, D.C., Honor Flight has flown thousands of veterans to see their memorial. But some veterans who apply to go on these free flights are too sick to travel.

Now, using the new technology of Google+ Hangouts, there’s a way aging and even terminally ill veterans across the country can still experience an Honor Flight without leaving their home, hospital bed or assisted living center.

In a partnership with the Veterans United Home Loans, Virtual Photo Walks and Central Missouri Honor Flight, volunteers are using Google+ Hangouts to provide virtual tours of not only the WWII memorial in Washington, D.C., but Pearl Harbor, the beaches of Normandy, France, the site of the D-Day Invasion, and even battleships like the USS Alabama. Future plans call for virtual tours to Mount Suribachi, the site of the flag raising during the battle for Iwo Jima. 

How Does it Work?

Volunteers bring laptops to aging veterans who experience a virtual tour in real time by joining a Google+ Hangout, which is a 10-person video chat room. The veterans can talk with fellow veterans, see their memorials and ask questions about them in real time, all from a laptop. Additional volunteers with video cameras attached to live streaming rigs serve as the arms and legs for the veteran, responding to their requests to move in closer or linger at a certain location near their memorial. The service is free and open to any veteran of any conflict who is not able to fly.

If you know of a veteran who isn’t able to travel who would enjoy a virtual tour of their memorials, please visit www.virtualphotowalks.org and fill out the form for the veteran.  If you know of a veteran who IS able to travel and would enjoy a free experience to Washington, D.C., please visit www.honorflight.org Don’t wait. We are losing our Wor
ld War II veterans at a rate of nearly a thousand a day nationwide.  Our next flight is November 6th.  If you have a Google+ account, go here www.vu.com/plus1 and thank a veteran in person for their service by joining our Hangouts.

Terri Jo Elliott with her Dad, Robert Malone
If you have questions, please contact me at sarah.hill@veteransunited.com  

Chief Master Sergeant Dr. Robert Malone
Chief Master Sergeant Malone Experiencing his 1st Hangout

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