The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is teaming up with the American Red Cross and Facebook to provide Portal video calling devices to veterans, caregivers, and families as social distancing guidance remains in place.

The Facebook Portal is a “smart display” that allows users to video chat and is augmented by a camera that can zoom in and track movements if you’re chatting while doing another activity.

“In support of veterans’ mental health and social connection, VA partnered with Facebook to provide more than 7,400 devices, while the American Red Cross Military Veteran Caregiver Network will store and ship them in pairs to qualifying veterans, along with their caregivers or families,” VA said in a press release.

According to the release, the President’s Roadmap to Empower Veterans and End a National Tragedy of Suicide (PREVENTS) Office initiated the plan and those participating in REACH-VET or any of VA’s Geriatric and Extended Care Services programs may qualify for a free Portal device.

“Veterans, families and caregivers will benefit through an increased support system,” VA Secretary Robert Wilkie said. “Our goal is for Veterans to feel less isolated through more communication. We believe this technology will help Veterans who might otherwise be unreachable.”

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Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.