To fill the need for affordable communication, Post 3281 turned an old storage room into a free computer lab.
“I’ve talked to several soldiers whose first priority upon arriving overseas is to find someplace to contact family,” said Judge Advocate William (Bill) Thien of VFW Post 3281, New Albany, Ind., “Even before a hot shower or meal.”
As a 38-year member of VFW Post 3281 and Vietnam veteran, Thien understands how important it can be to stay connected. He also understands that doing so requires money and technology - two things that many military members just don’t have.
To provide families with Internet access to their deployed loved ones, Thien and his Post members came together to transform a cluttered old storage room into a state-of-the-art Internet café.
“We really wanted to do something special for the local National Guard,” said Thien. “They deserve the very best.”
Dozens of man-hours and $10,000 later, Post 3281 is one of the first Posts to house its very own Internet café, equipped with three computers and a private videoconferencing room. Everything except the electrical work was done by Post and Auxiliary members, saving the Post around $5,000.
“I want to thank the entire community for their generous donations,” said Thien. “I would also like to thank the Post members for all the hard work they put into the renovations.
“We’ve opened the café to anyone in the community who wishes to contact an active duty service member,” said Thien. “The level of usage is high and will only increase as local units deploy.”
Thien hopes to spread the word about the café to other Posts across the U.S.
“We would love for other Posts to follow our lead,” said Thien. “With any luck, we will have started a trend.”