By Ms. Joyce Costello (IMCOM)February 20, 2009
LIVORNO, Italy- Births, promotions, life changing events back home are often difficult for servicemembers to attend when serving overseas. And conversely, not all families back stateside can make it overseas. That's were the ever advancing world of technology can bring families together in a sense.
When Chaplain (Maj.) Kelly Porter was getting ready to be promoted to major, he wanted to have his father, a retired Air Force colonel, and his extended family attend.
"My wife is pregnant with our third daughter, so it was more cost effective for them to come a few months later when our newest daughter is born," said Porter.
Still wanting to have them involved and participate, he decided to see if he could use technology to his advantage. He wanted something more then one-way streaming video, so he researched several programs and found one that could handle interactive video teleconferencing.
With one laptop, camera and microphone later, his parents, grandparents and extended family in Louisville, Ky., were able to actively take part in the live promotion ceremony at Camp Darby, Italy.
"It is important to recognize service members for outstanding performances in the past and their potential for the future," said retired Col. Murrell Porter, speaking to those in Italy about how proud he was with his son's accomplishments.
"Its amazing how much technology has advanced and what it does to improve moral for the services," said Porter. "This is much different then what we did to keep in touch with our families when I was younger."
According to Chaplain Porter "When my dad was in Vietnam as a fixed wing pilot, they used to record messages on reel-to-reel and send them home for family members."
"Family and friends are what is important," said Chaplain Porter. "I'm glad that my dad didn't have to just see pictures of it, but actually participated in the ceremony."
Chaplain Porter recommends that servicemembers and families that want to keep in touch with their loved ones should try the Army Knowledge Center's video messaging.
Military one source has also stood up a beta version of trooptube which can be found on www.trooptubetv.com.