Families experiencing deployment can still see loved ones

Published 6:48 am Thursday, August 27, 2009

Military families experiencing the struggles of deployment now have another medium to contact loved ones while they are away.

The Michael H. Seibel Family Visitation and Exchange Center of Austin is offering an outreach opportunity in its facility to help make the time apart easier for families.

The center is offering its Web Cam Room for families who would like to see their deployed soldier via video conferencing, rather than just speak to them over the phone. The private room includes two computers, comfortable chairs, games and DVDs geared toward military families.

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“They can make that virtual connection, which is one step better than a phone call,” said Maryanne Law, executive director of the Parenting Resource Center, which operates Seibel.

Center director Heather Steinkamp said recent deployments have prompted the need for the service.

“There may be moms who all of a sudden see themselves as single moms,” said Steinkamp, who went through the experience when her husband was deployed.

The center has partnered with the Mower County Chapter of the American Red Cross and the United Way of Mower County, who provided the equipment for the room. Fees for use of the room will be based on a sliding fee scale.

The Web Cam Room is also used for training Seibel Center employees, and may be used in the future for social workers who want to connect with foster children who are out-state.

Call the Seibel Center at 434-7550 to learn more about reserving a time in the Web Cam Room.

The center is located at 105 First St. S.E., across from the Austin Post Office.