May 31, 2012

Technology keeps service members, families closer together

Cpl. Shelby R. Shields
Desert Warrior Staff
Courtesy photo
Claudia Oates and her two children tune in from Lincoln, Calif., to watch their relative, Sophia Cole, graduate from high school May 25.

Graduation from high school is said to be among the many milestones in a young adult’s life and many high school graduates hope to share in this big moment with their families.

For many military children, family members outside their immediate family, live much too far away to make the momentous ceremony.  Thanks to modern technology, family members across the map are now able to, at least virtually, take part in their graduate’s celebration.

High schools across Yuma, Ariz., put out a live simulcast of their graduation ceremonies Friday so those who could not physically be there could still be there in heart.  Sophia Cole, a Gila Ridge High School graduate and daughter of Maj. Brian Cole, the site commander with VMU-4, had her family tune in from all the way from northern California.

“I really wanted and tried to be there but we just couldn’t make it this year,” said Nadine Cole, Sophia’s grandmother from Eureka, Calif., approximately 1100 miles away. “I just appreciate the opportunity so much, it’s very touching.”

In previous years, the graduation simulcast was intended to give deployed service members a chance to see their children graduate even though duty called them away.

“It’s a nice gesture for me and other family members, but its so wonderful for the parents. I’m so glad they have this available for the deployed parents,” Nadine added.

This year, thankfully all of the graduates’ parents were home safe and sound, opening up the opportunity to extended families.

“We keep our families close through technology; Skype, Facetime, phone and e-mail,” said Claudia Oates, Sophia’s aunt and Maj. Cole’s sister, who tuned in from Lincoln, Calif. “Its not just about me and my brother, we want our kids to be close to their cousins and we wouldn’t be able to without this kind of technology.”

“Our communication has greatly improved,” said Nadine. “Its enabled us to keep in touch more often because of how easy it is.”

The family was so pleased with the opportunity to take part in Sophia’s graduation and hopes to keep these types of events going for many years to come.

“I hope they keep this going for other families, it was simply amazing,” added Claudia.

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