...It's not about glory; it's about Their Story.
"Save me, Shield me, Share me
...and I will Live Forever."
There has long been a need to provide a practical and cost-effective means to permanently preserve, publicly display, and personally share the precious photographs and documents of our nation's Veterans within our communities. That need is now even more urgent, and can be broken down into one of two categories: Yesterday's Veterans and Today's Veterans.
...for Yesterday's Veterans
It’s been estimated that we’re currently losing our WWII vets at the rate of about 1,400 a day, or 42,000 a month (that’s the size of a medium-sized city). The last WWII vet is expected to pass away by 2020. Unfortunately, the unsung heroes of the Korean War won’t be far behind.
Of course, once a Veteran passes on, they leave behind all their "stuff". Many families of those earlier vets – from the Civil War, the Spanish-American War, WWI, WWII, Korea, and Vietnam, who served long before today's digital revolution – are now sitting on a stack of old wartime photographs, film negatives, 35mm slides, personal letters and postcards, newspaper clippings, military documents, orders, and citations, etc., usually stuffed away in a drawer, shoe box, footlocker, or maybe in an old scrapbook or two.
What are the surviving relatives going to do with these historical items?
Unfortunately, the following scenario is all too familiar:
Such a tragic fate is unforgivable. We must make every effort – as quickly as possible – to ensure that those precious memories are retrieved from oblivion.
"Old soldiers never die, they just fade away."
- Gen. Douglas McArthur
Unfortunately, old (and young) soldiers do die. It's their irreplaceable photos, writings and papers that "just fade away."
But they don't have to.
The oldest of Yesterday's Veterans are now passing. Will we continue to sit by and do nothing, while time and inattention slowly rob us of their precious images and historical documents, the priceless heritage of our Veteran families?
(If your answer is "no!", then please click here)
Fighting the needless loss of these historical materials – on behalf of all Veterans – is the driving purpose behind the The VeteranShield Project.
The first step – and the most critical – is to immediately help our older Veterans and their families to digitally preserve their most valued memories and historical documents, by offering them a quick and easy way of scanning them into "frozen" digital files, thus protecting them from any further deterioration forever.
However, that's often easier said than done. If you've ever attempted to use a standard flat-bed scanner to scan a large number of photographs or documents, then you already know that there is nothing "quick and easy" about any home scanning project. And the low-resolution results that are obtained are usually less than impressive, to say the least.
The VeteranShield organization understands this problem. That's why we include up to 20 free professional scans (any size, @ 600 ppi high resolution) with the commissioning of any new VeteranShield. You can quickly, easily, and safely ship your materials directly to our U.S.-based facility (via tracked carrier), where a team of dedicated technicians will carefully unpack, clean, sort, scan and digitize your Veteran's photos, slides, negatives and documents in any format (including letters and odd-sized photos) using high-end commercial scanning equipment capable of producing unmatched image quality. Furthermore, you'll be able to track the progress of your project online during each stage in the 14-step fulfillment process.
Our expert imaging technicians spend time with each individual frame to ensure ideal exposure, focus, color fidelity, cropping, and orientation. Next, they create only high-resolution (600 dpi or higher) digital files – necessary for the satisfactory reproduction the large-scale outdoor digital collages created for the VeteranShield Project – and produce a custom CD or DVD containing with your new image files and folders. They'll also upload copies of all your new digital files to our secure server, which you can access at any time using your own password. Finally, your precious original photographs and documents will be carefully repackaged for safe return shipment, along with a CD/DVD* containing your new high-resolution digital images.
The VeteranShield Preservation Program (which is included free with every VeteranShield enrollment) entitles you to send up to 20 Veteran-related photographs or documents for free professional high-resolution scanning and preservation services, along with unlimited online storage, forever. There is no better way to digitally "freeze" and protect the fading memories of Yesterday's Veterans.
Our specialty scanning services are custom designed to accommodate the unique needs of Yesterday's Veterans. For example, most standard commercial scanning companies must focus on the automated, high-volume, high-speed scanning of standard-sized (5" x 7") snapshots at a lower resolution (300 dpi), in order to save time, keep costs low, and maximize efficiency and profits. Understandably, such companies – while still providing an excellent service – are not willing to interrupt their efficient work flow to take the extra time or labor-intensive care necessary to prepare old photo albums, scrapbooks, historical documents, or outsized or odd-shaped materials for individual flat-bed scanning, or else they must charge a much higher premium price for doing so. In comparison, our highly-motivated volunteer technicians (note: when necessary, we also contract with carefully selected commercial studios to provide any needed special services) have been expertly trained to do exactly that – without rushing or risk to the original historical materials. Why?...because it's our Mission.
Our trained volunteer technicians, operating specialized equipment under the direct guidance and supervision of highly-qualified staff advisers, can also offer the following advanced services:
...For Today's Veterans
Today’s troops (and their families) face a much different problem: physical loss of their digital media.
It's probably safe to assume that most modern Veterans (and their families) now own at least one compact, high-resolution digital camera, and currently have a large number of priceless digital images stored on their laptop, mobile phone, or home computer.
In addition, many of Today's Veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars have fully established themselves in the military blogosphere; some write almost daily entries from the war zone. Their personal milblogs are full of incredible first-hand observations and life-in-the-trenches realism, and many include numerous irreplaceable digital photographs, videos, and audio recordings.
Furthermore, our recent overseas combat vets – and their family members waiting anxiously at home – have exchanged and saved countless touching emails and digital messages over the last two decades.
But therein lies a serious problem: One disturbing feature of digital and Web media is their potential evanescence. For example, most of today's military blogs are personal labors of love, providing fresh, timely, and exciting reports and observations on the immediate day-to-day situation surrounding a very specific deployment of military service; in this way, they serve as a wonderfully important "electronic bulletin board" for a growing and avid readership of eager family members and friends waiting back home. Unfortunately, there is also a high likelihood that such a historical milblog will not continue to be maintained up-to-date indefinitely, especially once the deployed servicemember (i.e., the author and photographer) finally returns home, thereby causing the online readership to inevitably drop off. While such long-term "milblog neglect" is perfectly natural and understandable, it is still unfortunate, and will likely grow worse as the years pass.
So, in the end, what will ultimately become of all these fantastic modern-day “dispatches from the front”, after Today's Veteran returns from their deployment?
Let's face it: even though these modern memories are technically safe as they're already "digitally frozen" – it will still be amazingly easy for them to be physically lost forever, or simply scattered and forgotten.
That kind of catastrophic loss of the memories of Today's Veterans is simply not an option for the VeteranShield organization. We respect those items as incredibly valuable historical materials, and it is totally unacceptable to risk them being lost, deleted, destroyed, or accidentally misplaced over the coming years, Instead, we insist that they be physically backed up, protected and secured in a central location in both the real and online worlds, so as to be easily available for study and appreciation by generations yet unborn. In fact, we demand that serious steps now be taken to insure that all such historical materials are securely archived for the next five hundred years (at an absolute minimum). We are now well aware of one fact: the dream of a practically unlimited useful life for all of our saved military memories is certainly technically possible, due to the growth of today's amazing digital preservation technology, and the interconnectivity and standardization offered by the internet. But to make that dream a true reality, we must all act now to ensure the safe and proper long-term storage and physical security of the irreplaceable digital files of Today's Veterans.
The VeteranShield organization offers an easy and cost-free permanent solution to this problem. Included with every one-time VeteranShield donation is an everlasting online home on the VeteranShield Secure Server for an unlimited number of digital files, to which you'll be able to upload all your Veteran-related images in minutes; you'll be able to log in at any time to your password-protected account to view your private collection and upload additional images. Also, all images are backed up on redundant off-site servers for the ultimate in online safety. This "forever service" is included automatically with every funded VeteranShield, as an integral part of our Perpetual Care Program.
Furthermore, the built-in storage compartments in the back of your VeteranShield provide a safe, spacious and secure area for the real-world physical storage all of your Veteran's journals, image files, digital media, recordings, and memorabilia. By keeping all your family's Veteran-related materials safely stored within your VeteranShield, you'll be ensuring that those irreplaceable items are always kept where you and your heirs can quickly and easily access them.
Is it really acceptable for us to continue exposing the irreplaceable digital images of Today's Veterans to complete and catastrophic loss through a simple technical glitch, online deletion, or the loss of tiny - and fragile - digital storage media?
(If your answer is "no!", then please click here)
Our Vision (Part II): Continue)