Celebrating basic training graduates in times of social distancing

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When graduations at Fort Jackson needed to go virtual, Verizon stepped in to help

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BASKING RIDGE, N.J. -- The U.S. Army Training Center at Fort Jackson, located in Columbia, S.C., is an essential part of the Army’s operations, and is the largest and most active Initial Entry Training center in the Army — training roughly 50 percent of all soldiers entering the Army each year. The highlight of each week at Fort Jackson is when they host 3,000 to 5,000 family members who come to the post to see their loved one graduate Basic Combat Training.

 “The Army’s greatest asset is our people – the finest men and women our great nation has to offer, and it is our responsibility to keep them safe. Therefore, once the pandemic surfaced, we began looking for a solution to allow families to see their soldiers’ graduation in real-time,” said Patrick Jones, Garrison Public Affairs Officer.

Due to social distancing requirements, Fort Jackson officials decided to make its weekly graduation ceremonies virtual, allowing families to participate while keeping both the soldiers and their loved ones safe. This decision resulted in an increased need for cellular coverage to accommodate all of the people tuning in via live stream.

Verizon immediately stepped in to address this need supplying a Satellite PicoCell on a Trailer (SPOT), which is a mobile network asset, to provide the coverage needed for three commercial grade video cameras to film graduations and allow people to view them via a Facebook live stream. During the very first “virtual graduation,” approximately 1,800 people were able to seamlessly view the first live stream. And others will be able to do the same for subsequent graduations, as we’re leaving the SPOT at Ft. Jackson for the foreseeable future.

“While the first livestream was a success at 1,800 viewers, subsequent streams brought in more than 4,000 families and friends to see their soldiers complete this milestone in real-time,” Jones said.

We couldn’t be prouder to support the Army's efforts to enable families and friends to witness and celebrate their loved ones’ accomplishments. This is one of more than 350 engagements during the COVID-19 pandemic where the Verizon Response Team has provided emergency, on-demand communications services and solutions to federal, state, local and public health agencies.

Visit our COVID-19 information page to learn more about Verizon’s response.

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