Operation Photo: Keeping Military Families in Touch

By Ron Eggers
February 15, 2005

 

PLEASE NOTE: All information regarding Operation Photo is for historical purposes only. Unfortunately, we are no longer accepting cameras for this program. You can directly contact www.OperationHomefront.net

PLEASE NOTE: All information regarding Operation Photo is for historical purposes only. Unfortunately, we are no longer accepting cameras for this program. You can directly contact www.OperationHomefront.net
It’s always difficult when families are separated. It’s even more difficult, and more anxiety laden, when the separation is due to war. With e-mails and the Internet, communications between the men and women on the front lines and the loved ones left behind have gotten a lot better, but staying in touch can still be a challenge.
 

Through the months and months of separation, babies are born, celebrations come and go, families move and things change. With so many changes, sometimes the best way to communicate is through pictures.
 

Operation Photo was established to make it easier for military families to take and share photos. Launched by Mitch Goldstone, owner of 30 Minute Photo, in Irvine, California, Operation Photo is collecting new and used digital cameras that are being donated to military families and support groups.
 

“The response has been great,” Goldstone said. “I can’t believe how well people have responded. We’ve gotten so many donations,” adding, “look at all these cameras, we didn’t have room to put everything out.” More than $110,000 worth of camera has already been donated, even though the program is officially only a few weeks old.
 

There were tables full of new cameras donated by Eastman Kodak, Olympus America and Konica Minolta. “We really appreciate the support we’ve gotten from these companies. They’re doing something very positive for our military personnel and their families.” There were also tables full cameras donated by individuals. Each used camera has been checked out to make sure it’s working properly.
 

The response has been great, but with more than a hundred thousand troops in Iraq, many more times that number in distant outposts of the world, and an even larger number of family members waiting back home, there’s still a great need to fill. “People interested in donating can go to our Web site, www.operationphoto.us,” Goldstone said. The program will continue through Independence Day 2005.
 

The cameras are being distributed by a Southern California-based non-profit group called Operation Homefront, which has 30 chapters and some 2000 volunteers throughout the country. The group’s Executive Director Ernie Leidiger explained, “The lack of communications is the number one issue effecting military families. Operation Homefront was designed to address that issue.” Among other activities, the group distributes computers so that service personnel and their families can keep in touch with e-mail and Internet phone. “Operation Photo is one of the best ideas we’ve seen in three years.”
 

The first military wife to receive a digital camera was Madeline Letchford, whose husband James is with the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit on board the U.S.S. Bon Homme Richard. The first picture her husband will see is of her and their 6 month old son Jimi. “My husband will love it. There’s no better way to keep in touch than with pictures.”
 

To further help the military families, Goldstone is giving them a 40 percent discount on products and services being ordered through the lab’s Web site, www.30minphoto.com. “That makes it possible for them to get reprints and blow-ups.” He’s also providing a 25 percent discount on on-line orders to people who donate digital cameras.
 

Article originally published on http://www.photographic.com/, link no longer available