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Connecting veterans and their families during COVID

With an AI-powered Smart Camera to keep your conversation in the frame and Smart Sound to reduce unwanted background noise, fun features like Story Time and AR effects, Alexa built in, and more, Portal from Facebook is reinventing the way people make video calls. As the COVID-19 pandemic has changed our ability to get together with friends and family in person, Portal has helped to bridge the gap.

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Former Navy submarine officer Lonnie Randle has been at the VA’s long-term care facility in Augusta, Georgia, since 2007. Nadean, his wife of 52 years, visited him every day until the COVID-19 pandemic hit. She hasn’t seen her husband in person since March, but thanks to the nonprofit Fisher House, she’s still able to visit with him virtually using Portal.

Fisher House Foundation builds homes located near military and VA medical centers around the world, letting military and veteran families stay free of charge while their loved ones are in the hospital. And since the pandemic started, Fisher House has distributed 160 Portal TVs to VA facilities across the  country, letting veterans stay close to their families — even when they can’t be in the same room.

“During this time of crisis, we wanted to ensure that we supported social distancing, but still helped bring families together. So, we created ‘A Family’s Love’ to safely connect veterans with their loved ones,” says Ken Fisher, chairman and CEO of Fisher House Foundation. “Over the years, we have witnessed firsthand the healing impact of a family’s love and support, and through technology, we’re proud to continue helping to foster that by providing Facebook Portals. These brave men and women gave their all for their country, and we’re grateful for the opportunity to give back to them.”

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We’ve also seen veterans connect with each other using Portal. Revel Communities, a brand of independent-living communities, provides residents with technology workshops and installed a Portal at a number of locations to help residents stay connected with loved ones and other Revel Communities. And two WWII veterans, Al Dearman and Boyd Holt, recently had the chance to meet virtually, thanks to some investigative legwork.

When the team at Revel Province heard that there was a new WWII veteran at Revel Rancharrah, they decided to find out if he might have a connection to any current residents. It was quickly discovered that Al and Boyd both served in Japan and Manilla at the same time. Using Portal TV, they were able to meet, swap stories, and share photos and memories — including the story of how Boyd met his wife.


This Veterans Day, we honor those past and present who’ve served their country in uniform. Thank you for your service.

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