WASHINGTON, D.C. - Wounded American service members in hospitals and treatment centers across the country now can stay in touch with loved ones and friends free of charge, thanks to Verizon's donation of 5,000 prepaid calling cards to the United Service Organizations (USO).
Verizon presented the calling cards today in a ceremony with Maj. Gen. Kevin C. Kiley, recently nominated by the president to serve as the next Army surgeon general, and USO officials at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. The USO will distribute the calling cards - which have patriotic designs and are reusable as bookmarks - nationally to American service members wounded in battle and being treated at U.S. Army hospitals.
Army facilities may provide medical treatment to members of other U.S. military services, depending on their medical needs.
"Working day-to-day with the wounded at our various Army hospitals, we see the positive effect that a letter or phone call from a loved one has on our patients," said Lt. Gen. James B. Peake, surgeon general and commander, U.S. Army Medical Command. "As these brave men and women rehabilitate, many of them need specialized treatment far from family and friends. The free long-distance cards Verizon has donated to the USO certainly will help our soldiers' morale."
Rear Admiral Wesley E. Jordan, Jr. (Ret.), vice president of Verizon Federal Network Systems LLC, said, "Staying in touch with family and friends is more important than ever during times of crisis. These free calling cards will enable our service members who put their lives on the line to do just that. We are honored to be part of this philanthropic effort, and we commend the USO and U.S. Army Medical Department for their hard work and dedication to our troops."
During the past year, Verizon has donated over 450,000 calling cards to support all branches of the military and their families. In November 2003, Verizon received a Home Front Award from the U.S. Department of Defense, recognizing the company's contribution of prepaid calling cards to families of National Guard and Reserve members activated to serve in the war in Iraq.
"One of the most critical services we provide is communications between U.S. soldiers and their loved ones worldwide," said John Hanson, senior vice president of the USO, which serves over 5 million service members and their families annually at 121 worldwide operations centers.
"As a not-for-profit organization chartered by Congress, the USO relies on volunteers and donations from conscientious industry partners to provide such services to families across the nation. We applaud and thank Verizon for its significant contribution to this effort."
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