Operation Homelink Marks Milestone

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 16, 2007 - Marking a milestone, Operation Homelink, in collaboration with Dell, presented 250 refurbished computers to families of the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force on Jan. 9 at Camp Lejeune, N.C.

"With this donation, Operation Homelink has now connected over 2,000 military families," Dan Shannon, founder and president of Operation Homelink, said.

Operation Homelink is a member of America Supports You, a Defense Department program highlighting ways Americans support the nation's servicemembers.

While most servicemembers have access to e-mail while deployed at remote outposts, the families of many junior enlisted members are often not able to afford computers and must rely on conventional mail or expensive phone calls to stay in touch, Shannon said.

Operation Homelink strives to link American servicemembers deployed overseas with their families through e-mail communication. To achieve that goal the organization distributes refurbished computers donated by sponsors such as Dell, Inc.

"We so appreciate Dell's continuing support of our efforts to connect military families with their loved ones serving overseas," Shannon said.

Operation Homelink's technology partner, NewMarketIT of Austin, Texas, provides professional refurbishment services including testing, registration, loading of a new operating system, software and links to military support Web sites. Computers are shipped in bulk to specific military units or geographic areas as designated by the donating corporation.

The families of the 2nd MEF were very appreciative to have an easy, inexpensive way to communicate with their deployed loved ones.

"This means a lot to us," Jamie Lopez, whose husband, Purple Heart recipient Sgt. Richard Lopez Jr., recently left for his fourth deployment with the 6th Marine Regiment, said. "Before, we had to go to the library to e-mail my husband. Now we can do so from home. This will make a huge difference."

Unit officials agreed that the donation would, indeed, make a huge difference.

"The Marines and sailors of 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force appreciate the efforts of Operation Homelink in supporting our families, especially during this time of war," Lt. Col. Curtis L. Hill, public affairs officer for 2nd MEF, said. "The computers being provided will greatly facilitate our families' contact with their deployed loved ones."

In the past year, Dell has joined with Operation Homelink to successfully connect more than 800 military families through the donations of refurbished computers. Those computers were presented to families at Fort Hood, Texas, Fort Bragg, N.C., and Fort Campbell, Ky. Additional distributions are planned for later this year.

Spouses or parents of deployed servicemembers in the junior-level pay grades of E-1 through E-5 are eligible, Shannon said. Specific families to receive computers are identified by family readiness group leaders.

Recent success for the program has enabled the expansion to include donations of laptops to wounded soldiers receiving treatment at military hospitals throughout the United States.

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