The levels of technology for troops in Iraq and Afghanistan have risen exponentially since the beginning of the wars. Internet access is common -- if not always reliable -- and on most bases Skype software has allowed service members to keep connected through phone calls and video connections like never before.
That's why it's so important to have a good computer back home.
Last week 150 families of deploying members of the Minnesota National Guard were the recipients of refurbished computers through a Chicago-based nonprofit called Operation Homelink. The group has provided computers to more than 3,500 military families since it began in February 2003. The most recent donation came from Massachusetts-based defense contractor Raytheon Co. and was coordinated by the Guard's Beyond the Yellow Ribbon Family Program.
Members of the 2nd Battalion, 135th Infantry are scheduled to deploy in May for the Middle East in support of Operation New Dawn, the drawdown of troops in Iraq. PFC Sarah Imdieke will be leaving family behind in Sauk Centre on her first deployment in five years in the Guard. The new computer will allow her mom, Diane, to keep in touch. The family's old computer was on its last legs and didn't have video capability.
"We wouldn't have been able to see her while she's gone," Diane Imdieke said. "It's huge, hopefully it will take away a lot of stress and worries. You can write a lot of stuff in a letter and say something in a phone call but when you can see that they look healthy and not all stressed out it will say a lot more."
Operation Homelink is always looking for companies to make a donation of at least 50 computers with a minimum of Pentium III 1.8 Ghz. The donation is tax-deductible. The program also keeps computers out of landfills. More detailed information can be found at www.operationhomelink.org.
Mark Brunswick • 612-673-4434