AOL, one of the world's largest interactive services companies, is sponsoring "Project Video Connect: We're Here Until They're Home," in a consolidated effort with the USO to boost the morale of deployed service members and their loved ones.
The project allows people to create a free, two-minute, personal video message at the San Diego office of the USO and send it to their friend or family member through e-mail.
"Allowing Marines, sailors and their families a face-to-face interaction while they're separated by deployments is a great project," said Kate Juergens, director of public affairs, San Diego USO. "The best part is it's free."
According to Silva, AOL members alone have sent more than 636,000 e-mails to the troops through the joint project with the USO.
"By launching Project Video Connect, we can now bring families separated by war and peacekeeping efforts throughout the world a little closer by giving them the opportunity to send personal video messages to each other," said Carlos Silva, vice president, AOL Broadband.
The project was first launched by NASCAR team owner, Richard Childress and new AOL driver Steve Park. The two were the first to send messages to deployed troops for this project.
"For 62 years the USO has been the connection between members of the U.S. military and their loved ones." said Edward A. Powell, president, USO World Headquarters. "Project Video Connect is one more way for the USO to deliver a touch of home. We're proud to be a partner in this program."
Project Video Connect stations are set up at 10 domestic and two international USO offices to provide the video greeting service.
"This (project) is cool. It brings you a bit closer to loved ones deployed, and I think it's great for kids," said Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Jason L. Farrel, USS Constellation, Naval Air Station North Island, Calif.
Among the 10 domestic stations, there are two San Diego USO locations close to the Marine Corps Recruiting Depot, San Diego - one downtown and one at the airport.
The project, which began May 9, will be available yearround and it is open to everyone, according to Juergens.
For more information or directions to the nearest USO, call (619) 235-6503 or log onto www.usosandiego.org.