Cell Phones for Soldiers Program Picking up in the Wiregrass

By: Jessica Leicht Email
By: Jessica Leicht Email

Is your old cell phone sitting in a drawer?

There's a new program in the Wiregrass, that's giving those phones new purpose.

Soldiers who served in the Vietnam War had limited communication with their loved ones back home.

"No cell phones, no email, nothing of that sort," Veteran Don Martin said.

"The only thing you could do was write letters and it was a week in transit before you got any information back and forth," Veteran Dave Weissinger said.

More than 40-years later, one thing is still the same.

"Of course the folks at home are very worried about the soldier, because she or he is in considerable danger," Martin said.

The non-profit, Cell Phones for Soldiers program takes gently-used cell phones and recycles them.

It then uses that money for prepaid international calling cards, to give to soldiers and their loved ones.

"Cell Phones for Soldiers is a great opportunity and a very easy way to provide talk time to soldiers that are overseas or doing their overseas assignment at a time when it's really important to them to talk to their loved ones back home," Houston County Revenue Commissioner Starla Matthews said.

Houston County's Revenue Department is now a drop-off location for the program.

"I would really like to challenge all of the businesses in the Dothan area to set up a box and become a drop off location," Matthews said.

Vietnam Vet Paul Schmitz knows from experience how important communication is during times of war.

"Having been a father who had a son in Iraq, the communication aspect of it was phenomenal. But just being able to see our son and know that he was alright at that particular moment in time," Schmitz said.

All of the vets agree, these free minutes will be appreciated.

“To help someone who's away from home in an unfamiliar place, missing home and to be able to do it at little to no expense to them to show appreciation, is marvelous as far as I'm concerned," Martin said.

Each donated phone that's worth $5.00 provides two and a half hours of free talk time to deployed troops.

Since its creation, Cell Phones for Soldiers have provided 181 million minutes of free talk time to servicemen and women all around the world.

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