Once again, it’s time for ‘Operation Valour-IT’ in which Soldiers’ Angels works to raise money for laptops and other technology to assist the recovery of wounded soldiers. This blog has supported Valour-IT every year, and this year will do so with a much greater intensity…shocking, I know. We have once again joined Blackfive’s Team Army, and encourage bloggers reading this to sign on and support the project as well, and each of you reading this site to donate whatever you can.
I’m in for $100 – who will come along with me?
I’ve heard Chuck Ziegenfuss speak about this, and seen how overcome with emotion he is when he tries to explain what it meant to him – wounded, with injured hands that kept him from dialing a phone or typing on a computer keyboard – when he got his voice-operated laptop. Here’s the backstory:
Project Valour-IT began when Captain Charles "Chuck" Ziegenfuss was wounded by an IED while serving as commander of a tank company in Iraq in June 2005.
During his deployment he kept a blog (an online personal diary, opinion forum, or news analysis site-called a milblog or military weblog when written by a servicemember or about military subjects). Captivating writing, insightful stories of his experiences, and his self-deprecating humor won him many loyal readers. After he was wounded, his wife continued his blog, keeping his readers informed of his condition.
As he began to recover, CPT Ziegenfuss wanted to return to writing his blog, but serious hand injuries hampered his typing. When a loyal and generous reader gave him a copy of the Dragon Naturally Speaking Preferred software, other readers began to realize how important such software could be to CPT Ziegenfuss' fellow wounded soldiers and started cast about for a way to get it to them.
A fellow blogger (blog author) who writes under the pseudonym FbL contacted Captain Ziegenfuss and the two realized they shared a vision of providing laptops with voice-controlled software to wounded soldiers whose injuries prevented them from operating a standard computer. FbL contacted Soldiers Angels, who offered to help develop the project, and Project Valour-IT was born.
In sharing their thoughts, CPT Ziegenfuss (now a Major) and FbL found that memories of their respective fathers were a motivating factor in their work with the project. Both continue their association with this project in memory of the great men in their lives whose fine examples taught them lasting lessons of courage and generosity.
In the years since its founding in 2005, the project has acted to meet emerging needs and its mission of supporting the severely wounded has expanded. In addition to voice-controlled laptops, Valour-IT now helps provide active and whole-body video games such as Wii Sports, which is used to great effect in physical therapy, and personal GPS systems that help compensate for short-term memory loss and organizational/spatial challenges common in those with brain injuries.