2009
Benedictine students reach out to American soldiers stationed in Iraq

Benedictine students reach out to American soldiers stationed in Iraq
November 24, 2009

Phil Brozynski, Media Relations Manager
(630) 829-6094
pbrozynski@ben.edu

Sometimes reaching out to a soldier far away from home is as easy as stepping in front of a small camera on a conference room table. Several Benedictine University students spent an hour conversing with about a dozen U.S. servicemen and women stationed overseas at Al Asaad Air Base in Iraq on Friday, November 13 via videoconference from Benedictine’s facilities in Lownik Hall. The call was sponsored by the Freedom Calls Foundation, a nonprofit organization that seeks to connect soldiers on extended deployments with relatives and friends back home. The experience touched those on both sides of the ocean. “We all have our little piece of the nation — family and friends – that we cling dear to as we sacrifice our freedoms for (others),” said U.S. Marine Corps Capt. Kenneth A. White. “Today, (Benedictine students) have become a part of each of our precious pieces. “We stand as defenders for our nation, but the support (demonstrated by the students) provides us the strength to continue standing,” he added. The Benedictine University students shared a number of experiences with the servicemen, who represented all four branches of the military. More than 30 soldiers who wanted to participate in the teleconference had to be turned away because their tiny room would not hold that many soldiers. “We talked about sports and what kinds of things we’re doing in school,” said Benedictine University freshman Bridgette Manley, a psychology major from Joliet. “I think a lot of them enjoyed just talking to people back home because it gave them a break and allowed them to relax a little bit.” Manley has some close friends serving in the military “who always talk about how hard it is and how they always have to be on guard.” She readily volunteered to participate when she heard about the teleconference. “I wanted to show my appreciation for what they are doing over there,” Manley said. Rudy Dardy, audio-visual coordinator at Benedictine University, is planning another videoconference with the soldiers stationed at Al Asaad after the students return from their Christmas break. “The students who participated were so overwhelmed by the experience that they are going to recruit more students for the next one,” Dardy said. “I have to admit it was a great experience, and after listening to all of the soldiers, you really have a better appreciation of what they are doing over there.” Immediate families of servicemen stationed at Camp Taji, Al Asad Air Base, Camp Fallujah, Camp Victory (Baghdad) and Camp Taqaddum in Iraq can contact Dardy at (630) 829-6692 to schedule a video conference with their loved ones at any time a meeting can be arranged. For more information about the Freedom Calls Foundation or to make a donation, visit their web site at www.freedomcalls.org.

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Benedictine University is an independent Roman Catholic institution located in Lisle, Illinois just 25 miles west of Chicago. Founded in 1887, Benedictine provides 56 undergraduate majors, 16 graduate and four doctorate programs. The Chronicle of Higher Education recently ranked Benedictine University as the seventh fastest-growing campus among private nonprofit master’s universities, and Forbes magazine named Benedictine among the top 20 percent of America’s colleges for 2011. Benedictine University’s Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.) program is listed by Crain’s Chicago Business as the fourth largest in the Chicago area in 2011.