By Spc. Shanika L. FutrellMarch 3, 2011
159th Combat Aviation Brigade Public Affairs
KANDAHAR AIR FIELD, Afghanistan (March 2, 2011) - Video teleconferencing is one of the many ways Soldiers of the Task Force Thunder, 159th Combat Aviation Brigade, can communicate with their families while deployed here.
This kind of communication is used only for special occasions such as weddings, a birth of a child, holidays, reenlistments, awards and promotions.
Sgt. 1st Class Juan Corral, the brigade's automations Non-Commissioned Officer in charge, was promoted via VTC from here to Fort Campbell, Ky. where his wife Netta, along with his son and three daughters were able to see him pinned the rank of sergeant first class and reaffirm his oath of enlistment.
"It was heartwarming to have both of my families here on one of the most important days in my career," said Corral. "I say both of my families, meaning of course my wife and kids, but my company as well. I could not have achieved this alone. Both of my families have supported me, and I thank them for the motivation to continue what I do daily."
Families are relieved when seeing their Soldier on live footage, reassuring them that their Soldier is doing well.
"When you're deployed any communication with your family brings up your morale, it helps you to be effective at your work, which helps to complete the mission successfully," said Master Sgt. Jose Urbaez, senior career counselor for HHC, Task Force Thunder, 159th CAB. "It helps to bring the stress down on both ends, so they don't have to worry about how one another are doing throughout the Soldier's deployment."
"This was a real honor not only for (me), but my children as well," Netta said. "To have them see their father excel in his career and be able to tell him face-to-face that they love him - and to see and hear him say it back - meant the world to them and me."
VTC is not only a way to create that special moment between the Soldier and his family; it's also used to help accomplish missions.
"VTC allows us to communicate with foreign forward operating bases over a secure network to ensure all of our shops within the brigade are on track with any mission requirements," said Spc. Patrick Tercius, one of the brigade's automations customer service assistants.
With the different organizations trying to gain information, VTC remains a secret network and is effective when hooked up correctly.
"The main challenges of conducting a VTC (are) the type of networks that are being used and the configuration of the equipment," said Tercius. "We have to ensure the network and the equipment is hooked-up correctly, because if it is not setup properly we would not be able to communicate effectively."
Communication has come along was for troops on the ground.
"Back before VTC's were heard of, I was in an approximate 400-man battalion with very limited e-mail and phone access," said 1st Sgt. Derrick Davis, HHC BDE, TF Thunder, 159th CAB. "The Internet connection was poor, and there were only two cell phones and two MWR NIPR phones for all of us to use."
Now, many Soldiers use their own cell phones, Internet connections are much more accessible, and VTCs can make the most special moments a shared memory.
Deployment can be rough on any Soldier and their families and communication is a way to help relieve some of it, so if there is a special event that you would like to have over VTC contact your local Family Readiness Support Assistant or your chain of command to find out your options.