09/03/09 — Military families can stay connected at local library

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Military families can stay connected at local library

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on September 3, 2009 1:46 PM

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Maegen Wilson, one of five members of the Wayne County Public Library staff trained on Skype, logs into her account to help promote Operation Always There, a program designed to keep deployed troops and their families connected via 30-minute video conference calls.

Members of the Wayne County Public Library staff know how it feels to be left behind when a loved one deploys.

Several of them have spouses and children in the military.

So as hundreds of airmen from Seymour Johnson Air Force began tours at war earlier this week, officials at the Ash Street facility began promoting -- again -- a program designed months ago to help those at home and overseas stay connected.

Operation Always There allows family members and friends of deployed troops access to the library laptop for 30-minute Skype sessions.

"We listen to the people here who have children in the military and hear how much they miss them, so we saw it as a big need," said Maegen Wilson, one of five members of the staff trained on the software. "Skype basically turns the computer into a video phone."

The service will be available daily, however, those who wish to utilize it are asked to set up an appointment.

"We only have the one laptop so people just need to let us know one or two days before they want to use it," Mrs. Wilson said. "And right now, we only have one headset, but if we know a family wanted to come in, we could get more."

Those who have never used Skype need not worry.

During their first session, a member of the library staff will help them set up an account and get started. And it's free.

"Using Skype for computer to computer is completely free," Mrs. Wilson said. "And even if the (troop's) computer doesn't have a video camera ... they can use the program to do a live chat."

Sessions will be limited to 30 minutes, to allow the maximum amount of people to utilize the program.

For more information about Operation Always There or to make an appointment to connect with your loved one, contact the reference desk at 735-1824 ext. 5100.