Google Donates Chromebooks To Wounded Warriors

Tech giant gives notebook computers to military hospitals to help vets connect with families and loved ones while healing.
Samsung Chromebook: Hands-On Visual Tour
Slideshow: Samsung Chromebook: Hands-On Visual Tour
(click image for larger view and for slideshow)
Google is working with the federal government to provide notebook computers and online tools to help veterans--particularly wounded ones--better connect with families and friends.

Google has partnered with the Red Cross to launch a "Chrome for Wounded, Ill, and Injured Warriors" program, through which the company is donating 600 new Chromebooks--notebook computers based on its lightweight operating system Chrome--to several veterans medical centers for patients to use while they are in the hospital, according to the Department of Defense (DOD).

The Red Cross is equipping the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., Fort Belvoir Community Hospital in Virginia; Womack Army Medical Center at Fort Bragg, N.C., Navy Medical Center San Diego in California; and Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany with the notebooks that wounded soldiers can borrow during their stays at the centers.

[ Learn more about the military's growing use of mobile tech: Army Advances Smartphone Strategy. ]

Volunteers with the Red Cross who are trained to use the devices will help soldiers access the Internet and tools to stay in touch with friends and family, according to the DOD.

The first center to receive the notebooks was Walter Reed, which now has 275 machines. Volunteers from the Google Veterans Network--a volunteer group formed by Google employee Carrie Laureno--administered two days of one-on-one training on the Chromebooks for patients, family members, and hospital staff, as well as Red Cross volunteers.

Laureno came up with the idea to work with the Red Cross to donate Chromebooks to wounded veterans after she lost a loved one in action and visited one of his friends being treated in the hospital, according to the DOD.

Google also has teamed with the Department of Veterans Affairs, to launch a website, Google for Veterans and Families, that provides resources for veterans and their families as they transition back to civilian life after serving in the armed forces.

The site gives veterans resources for maintaining memories of their service online--such as photo storage and the opportunity to build an online map of places they visited during their service.

It also provides practical tips for reintegrating into civilian life, such as how to build resumes and find jobs, including a job bank that culls job opportunities from job postings around the Web.

The move is in line with efforts by the Obama administration to help veterans find employment once they've finished their military deployments.

In addition to the website, Google is offering free telephone calls for any U.S. service member to call friends and families from their Gmail accounts until the end of the year, with the possibility of an extension of the free service into 2012, according to the DOD.

Our annual Federal Government IT Priorities Survey shows how agencies are managing the many mandates competing for their limited resources. Also in the new issue of InformationWeek Government: NASA veterans launch cloud startups, and U.S. Marshals Service completes tech revamp. Download the issue now. (Free registration required.)