Jeffersonville helping soldiers stay connected - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Jeffersonville helping soldiers stay connected


posted by Stephan Johnson,

JEFFERSONVILLE, Ind. (WDRB Fox 41) -- An effort in Jeffersonville, Ind. is helping soldiers abroad stay connected to their families.  They're using something that just about everyone has laying around the house: old cell phones.

"I joined in with the 198th Military Police Battalion," says Nathan Bloomer, Iraq & Afghanistan veteran.

Bloomer served two tours of duty abroad with the Kentucky Army National Guard. 

"My tours were in Bagram, Afghanistan in 2006, and in 2008, I was in Baghdad."

Bloomer's time overseas wasn't easy, but being able to talk to his family helped.

"I had a wife and my daughter was actually born...and so I was constantly calling back and forth."

That's when, Bloomer learned, calling home from halfway around the world can get pretty expensive. 

"I think in one month I spent around $300 and got to talk about a half-hour to an hour."

That's why the city of Jeffersonville is now part of the effort to help soldiers stay in contact with their families without going broke. 

Rick Lovan's official job is Engineering Coordinator for Jeffersonville, but he has recently taken on another important role. 

"I don't mind being the cell phone guy," Lovan said. "Not for that purpose."

"It's kind of amazing," he added. "We thought we were going to do just the 80 cell phones that we had."

The city is working with Cell Phones for Soldiers. The non-profit group collects and sells used cell phones and uses the money to buy prepaid calling cards for soldiers. 

"With Mayor Galligan and I being veterans, that kind of hit home," Lovan said.

And it has been a hit in Jeffersonville. The city has collected more than four boxes of cell phones so far, and the organization makes it easy to get the phone to the right place, says Lovan. 

"They send us the labels, and they also send us the caution label that says there's lithium batteries inside," he said.

The program started several years ago while Nathan Bloomer was still serving. So in this case, one man's garbage really was another man's treasure. 

"That left more of an opportunity to buy my daughter something for her birthday and send it back," says Bloomer.

The city of Jeffersonville plans to continue collecting the phones as long as the program is in place.

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