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Georgia Gwinnett College offers free video conferences to Iraq

LAWRENCEVILLE - Some people who know service members stationed in Iraq may not have to wait until troops return to the United States to see, hear and talk to their loved ones.

Georgia Gwinnett College has joined with the Freedom Calls Foundation to allow the family and friends of some troops stationed in Iraq to make free video conferencing calls to three military bases in Iraq.

Freedom Calls, a nonprofit foundation based in New York, has set up connections at Camp Fallujah, Camp Taji and Al Asad Airbase, and the foundation is working with Georgia Gwinnett to schedule video conference calls to troops who are stationed at or have access to those three bases, said Rex Smith, the school's director of educational technology and media services.

Anyone who wants to show off a new baby or who just wants to see the face of a service member who has access to one of the three connection points can make an appointment through Georgia Gwinnett College, Smith said. The college is using its existing technology to make the calls.

Appointments can be made by calling 678-407-5885 and talking with a representative. Those who make appointments will need to provide the service members' names and facility. While the college can accommodate large groups, the number of people attending the call should also be provided to the college.

Video conferencing is available 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays and 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Appointments can be made through Friday and after Jan. 3.

Smith said people who want to make appointments should keep in mind that Iraq's time is eight hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time.