Janesville51.9°

Families and soldiers get connected

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Ted Sullivan
October 19, 2009
— The Sellhausen family was able to record a video message Sunday for their favorite soldier, Pvt. 1st Class Joshua Sellhausen, who is stationed in Iraq.

The Beloit family gave him and other soldiers a “shout out” from the Alliant Energy Center in Madison, where about 2,000 people from across the state connected with Wisconsin soldiers in Iraq via live video.


Multiple video simulcasts streamed live between eight military bases in Iraq and the arena during the event, which allowed family members and soldiers to “tailgate” together during the Green Bay Packers football game.


Four jumbo TV screens were on the floor of the arena. One of the screens played messages recorded from soldiers in Iraq. Others showed the football game or live feeds to military bases.


About 20 private booths with computers also were set up for families to speak with soldiers live via videoconferencing. More than 100 families signed up for the service.


Ashley Sellhausen, Joshua’s sister, said she missed her brother.


“We all want him home so fast,” she said. “We just want him to come home safely in one piece.”


Stephanie Sellhausen, Joshua’s other sister, said she speaks with her brother regularly via computer instant messaging.


“I just hope he gets the experience he needs, so when he comes back, he can start his career,” she said.


Jenell and Dana Casciaro, Elkhorn, hoped to talk to their family member, Pvt. 1st Class Joseph Casciaro, in one of the live video booths. But the soldier hadn’t gotten any sleep all night, and he was scheduled for duty in three hours.


Instead, they talked on the phone. Dana will try and set up a web camera at home.


“We just like to come out to these events to show our support for the troops,” Jenell said.


Jennifer Caldwell, Janesville, attended the event because her husband, Master Sgt. Dan Caldwell, is stationed in Iraq. She also wasn’t able to meet him on video, but they talked on the phone.


Still, Jennifer was glad to see other military families at the event.


“This is just a good way to catch up with people the military has introduced you to,” she said. “We’re kind of catching up with old friends.”


Elizabeth Bires, Sparta, was able to speak with her husband, Staff Sgt. Alan Bires, via video in one of the booths. She held her toddler son, Grant, in her lap while chatting. Her in-laws joined her.


They said it was great seeing their loved one face-to-face.


“I loved it,” Elizabeth said.



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