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Let freedom ring.

Family members with a loved one in Iraq know that sometimes the "heartfelt" connection just isn't enough, especially for young children. Thanks to Freedom Calls Foundation and Mississippi State University's Extension offices, videoconferencing brings a "physical" connection for military personnel and their families--it's not home for the holidays, but it provides much-needed reassurance for young family members.

Susan Seal, Distance Education Coordinator at Mississippi State University-Extension Service, recalls a letter she received from a family member who had a niece at Camp Taji. "The person stationed in Iraq is a mother of two children under the age of 5," Seal explains.

"She told us that it really meant a lot for her children to not just hear her voice on the phone or get an email from her, but for her children to see her and know that is she okay, they are still a family, and she would be coming home."

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Mississippi State University-Extension Service has facilitated seven Freedom Calls since they were initially contacted by the foundation. "We became involved when their scheduling person called us to see if we had a site available for one of their families," Seal says.

"Once we explained the extensive nature of our network, they began calling us more frequently. Through our contacts across the United States, we have also helped Freedom Calls find sites for families in other states."

The Extension Services offers videoconferencing capabilities in Extension offices in every county in Mississippi, most of the Research and Extension Centers, and several sites on the university campus. Military personnel at one of Freedom Calls' three sites in Iraq--Camp Fallujah, Camp Taji, and Al Asad Air Force Base--can schedule a videoconference with a contact person at their site; a family member in Mississippi then contacts either Dr. Seal or their local Extension office to set up the one-hour conference.

For more information or to schedule a conference, contact Susan Seal at 662.325.8581 or susans@ext.msstate.edu. For more information on Freedom Calls, see www.freedomcalls.org.
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Title Annotation:mississippi matters: southern scrapbook
Author:McNair, Ann Shivers
Publication:Mississippi Magazine
Date:Nov 1, 2008
Words:339
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