| EL PASO, Texas
EL PASO, Texas Aamber Alderson's sweetheart - her husband, Staff Sergeant James Alderson - will be thousands of miles away from her on Valentine's Day. So on Friday at Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas, she recorded a virtual valentine that will be sent to troops in places including Kuwait and Afghanistan, where he is stationed.
"We love you, we miss you, you're our hero, come home safely," Alderson said she told her husband.
Alderson recorded her video message as part of the "It's a Great Day to Love a Soldier" event at a Fort Bliss mall. Some, like her, came to send a message to a loved one.
Others recorded messages to all deployed soldiers, thanking them for their service. The 10- to 30-second messages will be seen by as many as 10,000 troops, according to officials at Fort Bliss, which organized the public event along with the Association of the U.S. Army and AT&T.
This is the second deployment of James Alderson that he and his wife have weathered. The parents of two sons - Dakota, 16 and Derick, 17 - and a daughter, Kaycee, 12, the Aldersons try to stay in contact via Yahoo Messenger, Skype, email and phone calls, Aamber Alderson said. It's not easy, she said, "but we make sure we find a way to communicate."
She said that messages from military families boost the morale of soldiers overseas.
"We're all family, in one way or another," she said.
Sarah Brindley is a part of that family. The young mother stopped by the event tent to record a brief message for soldiers in Afghanistan, even though her husband has yet to be deployed.
"My husband, thank goodness, is still here," she said.
But with relatives and friends who have served or are currently serving in the military, Brindley knows what a family experiences when a loved one is deployed. And she appreciates what a video message will mean for a deployed soldier.
"It gives them a sense of purpose for what they're doing and what they're going through," she said.
Major Joel Newsom can attest to that sense of purpose. An officer with a 17-year career in the Army, Newsom says one of the hardest experiences during a deployment is the separation a soldier feels from his family. But technology, he adds, has come a long way in helping to ease that hardship.
"Skype, photos over email -- they make deployment a lot more bearable," he said.
(Reporting By Rene Leon; Editing by Corrie MacLaggan)