The World War II memorial wasn’t built until 2004 and, sadly, most World War II veterans won’t live long enough to see it. In an effort to get veterans to Washington, D.C., Honor Flight has flown thousands of veterans to see their memorials. But some veterans who apply to go on these free flights are too sick to travel. “Hero Tours” is a new online tour option for veterans who want to see their memorials but can’t travel.
Now, using Google Glass and Google+ Hangout technology, aging and even terminally ill veterans across the country can still experience their memorials without leaving their homes, hospital beds or assisted living centers. Here’s an example of a recent tour at a Missouri Veterans Home.
In a partnership with Veterans United Home Loans, Virtual Photo Walks and Central Missouri Honor Flight, these veterans are able to travel on an online magic carpet around the world to virtually visit their memorials. Volunteer videographers join a group video chatroom to capture live interactive video at sites including battleships, the World War II memorial in Washington, DC, the USS Arizona at Pearl Harbor, the Korean Memorials in Washington, DC and Korea and even the beaches of Normandy, France.
How Does it Work?
Volunteers bring laptops to aging veterans who experience a virtual tour in real time by joining a Google+ Hangout, which is a 10-person video chat room. The veterans can talk with fellow veterans, see their memorials, and ask questions about them in real time, all from a laptop. Additional volunteers with video cameras attached to live streaming rigs or Google Glass serve as the arms and legs for the veteran, responding to their requests to move in closer or linger at a certain location near their memorial.
The service is free and open to any veteran of any conflict who is not able to fly.
If you would like to be a “laptop volunteer” and help a veteran join the chatroom, please email firstname.lastname@example.org . If you know of a veteran who IS able to travel and would enjoy a free experience to Washington, D.C., please visit Honor Flight’s website. Don’t wait. We are losing our World War II veterans at a rate of 600 a day nationwide.