Broadband: A Valuable Connection for Texas Military, Veterans & Families
Technology Key to Communication, Health Care, Education
As Texans prepare to celebrate Veterans Day, the Internet Innovation Alliance (IIA) is calling for expanded broadband Internet access that will help military families stay connected with loved ones who are serving our nation from around the world.
The need for increased broadband access for Texas’ military communities is vital as Texas hosts more active duty military personnel than any other state. Unfortunately, many Texas families without a home broadband connection experience communication barriers that prevent face-to-face interactions with their loved ones serving in the military.
“One of the often overlooked costs of lacking broadband availability is the inability of our troops to see and interact with their families in real-time using video chat,” said Afghanistan war veteran Rick Noriega, Colonel in the Texas Army National Guard and a former five-term member of the Texas House of Representatives from Houston.
Without high-speed Internet at home, sending digital videos or pictures of children’s birthdays, soccer games, or other events is virtually impossible. Lack of access also hinders families’ ability to share important information.
“From my experience, it is essential to the mental health and morale of our troops to be able to see and speak with family and friends,” said Noriega. “I remember a priceless moment during my deployment to Afghanistan in 2005 when I was able to watch my son open his Christmas gifts over the Internet.”
Beyond connecting members of the military to their families, broadband also plays a crucial role in the lives of the 1.6 million Texas veterans.
For example, The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ Office of Telehealth has served more than 200,000 veterans through its clinic-based program, and more than 50,000 patients are enrolled in the VA’s Home Telehealth program.
And with thousands of soldiers returning from Iraq at the end of the year, many veterans are expected to pursue educational opportunities online.
“We should be doing everything we can to help Texas military veterans who have so bravely served their country,” said Noriega. “When we connect veterans to broadband, we are also connecting them to opportunities in health care, education and employment. These are opportunities they’ve earned.”
The Internet Innovation Alliance is a broad-based coalition supporting broadband availability and access for all Americans including underserved and rural communities. It aims to ensure every American, regardless of race, income or geography, has access to this critical tool. The IIA seeks to promote public policies that leverage the power of entrepreneurs and the market to achieve universal broadband availability and adoption. Find out more about the IIA at www.internetinnovation.org. Supporters can also sign the IIA’s online petition promoting broadband access and adoption here: http://internetinnovation.org/activities/broadband-petition.
For the Internet Innovation Alliance
Lillie Lopez, 832-443-7477