Here is an exercise: think about the last time you made a phone call to a family member or friend. Did you think about the costs? For most United States Military serving overseas, making a phone call can be an expensive action. Robbie and Brittany Bergquist realized this after hearing about one soldier’s $8,000 phone bill in 2004. Moved by the soldier’s powerful story, the brother and sister duo launched CellPhonesforSoldiers, a nonprofit providing free communications tools to active duty military members and veterans. Last week, we had the great pleasure of talking to Robbie & Brittany about their newest program, HelpingHeroesHome: an initiative of Cell Phones for Soldiers providing emergency funds for returning veterans to alleviate communication challenges as well as physical, emotional and assimilation hardships. With the help of Causes.com, Helping Heroes Home hopes to raise funds through a partnership with AT&T.
With thousands of United States servicemen and women returning home from duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, it is more imperative to provide resources and support to soldiers entering civilian life again. Robbie says that this is why Helping Heroes Home is so important. “Now that [troops] are coming home in large numbers, we wanted to do our part. If there’s a situation where a military member has a short-term bill to pay that’s holding them back from getting them back into regular life, we want to help them with that.”
Helping Heroes Home will address the ever-increasing need to provide fast relief in the form of phone service, paying for an overdue bill, urgent car repairs, emergency medical expenses, and more. It’s a fundamental way to help veterans feel a sense of belonging when they return home. Robbie noted, “We connect troops with their loved ones and having phone cards allows them to get that motivation and rejuvenation knowing that their families are right there.” Through the program, Brittany hopes troops won’t feel alone when transitioning from military life to civilian life. “Servicemen and women sacrifice their safety, comfort and time with friends and family to protect our country, our freedom and our liberty. They are heroes in our society. Because they give up so much, I believe that each member of the military and each military family should be able to hear each other’s voices on a regular basis during deployment and be supplied with the tools they need to reintegrate back into society.”
Since 2004, Cell Phones for Soldiers has provided 150 million minutes of free talk time. In 2011, CPFS shared 690,000 communication tools (phones and calling cards) with military families and provided 50 million minutes of talk time. Brittany remembers when it was one of her friends whom she was able to help. “I have a few friends in the military and I am a little shy about mentioning the nonprofit. I recently told one of my friends [about CPFS] and he said, ‘No way. You’re the one with the calling cards? I got one of those for Christmas and I was able to call my mom.”
You can help provide this service to a veteran by watchingthisvideo. With your viewing, AT&T will give $2 (up to $50,000) to Cell Phones for Soldiers for everyone who takes action. Your action results in an invaluable investment into the well-being of every returning soldier trying to get their life back to normal.