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Injured Warriors Have New Way To Stay In Touch With Loved Ones

The American Red Cross can now help wounded members of the military communicate with friends and family through a donation of 600 Chromebooks by Google.

Patients will be able to check out the Chromebooks through the Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces offices located within Walter Reed Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Fort Belvoir Community Hospital, Womack Army Medical Center, Navy Medical Center San Diego and Landstuhl Regional Medical Center. The Red Cross will administer the loaner program for the Chromebooks, which are now available through Google.

“The Google Chromebooks will be a terrific tool for these patients,” said Sherri L. Brown, Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces Senior Vice President. “Many of these men and women are far from home. The Chromebooks will provide patients and families with a means to keep in touch, as well as an opportunity for patients to continue relationships with other families they met while being treated.”

The inspiration for the new program came from Carrie Laureno, founder of the Google Veterans Network and Audience Evangelist in Google’s Creative Lab. Several years ago, a loved one of Laureno’s was killed in action and she went to Walter Reed to visit their teammate who was being treated at Walter Reed. After visiting Walter Reed, Laureno was determined to find a way for the hospital, the Red Cross and Google to work together.

“Four years later I fulfilled my promise,” she said. “It was a hope of mine to go back and take advantage of the Google services available to help people at Walter Reed and other military hospitals. The Chromebooks will help these patients build a support network and improve their quality of life.”

Jeff Mrazek pays close attention as Carrie Laureno of Google demonstrates the use tools of the new Google Chromebooks. Now he and his family can stay connected while he convalesces at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. David Shapiro of Google guides Mark Baidinger through the features of the new Google Chromebooks.

Wounded patients will be able to check out the notebooks to use during the duration of their stay. Through their Chromebooks, patients will be able to access the internet and use tools such as Gmail, Google Voice and Google Plus to stay in touch with family and friends.

Red Cross volunteers are being trained on the use of the Chromebooks and will be available at the hospitals to help patients become proficient in using the new devices. The “Stay In Touch While On The Mend” guidebook will also help patients and their loved ones learn how to use the Chromebooks.

The Google Chromebooks will allow the Red Cross to add a new dimension of support to the services already provided to the wounded members of the military. “While health care providers ensure world-class medical care for the wounded, ill and injured service members, our Red Cross volunteers provide comfort and peace of mind by providing a piece of home,” Brown said.

Red Cross volunteers assist service members as they progress through their surgeries and physical therapy to eventual outpatient care. After patients are discharged, the Red Cross continues to cater to the family’s needs through partnerships with community organizations and businesses like Google.