CINCINNATI, Dec. 28, 2010 /PRNewswire/ -- Right now, thousands of American troops are deployed overseas and separated from their loved ones, as the U.S. is experiencing the longest deployment of troops in history. For some families, this means that they haven't seen their soldiers in over a year. Procter & Gamble (NYSE: PG) and Walmart (NYSE: WMT) have teamed up with the USO to help connect deployed members of the U.S. military with their families during the holiday season and tell their personal reunion stories.
As part of "Operation Family Connect" (www.operationfamilyconnect.com) P&G, Walmart and the USO recently launched "Operation Family Connect: Road to Reunion," an original web series, created in collaboration with The ZiZo Group. The series chronicles three military families as they anticipate the return of their family members from Iraq through home videos and personal blogs. Today, the final videos go live and viewers can share in the emotional reunion celebrations as the families see each other for the first time in over a year.
"For the many US troops deployed today, being away from their loved ones can be the most difficult part of the job. We wanted to highlight and thank some of the brave families who are back at home, awaiting the return of their soldiers through the 'Road to Reunion' series," said Sloan Gibson, president of the USO. "Our partnership with P&G and Walmart is helping raise awareness for USO programs like these, and enabling us to better connect military families this holiday season."
On the Operation Family Connect website, viewers can have an intimate look at three military families and share in their daily hopes, heartaches and experiences that come from having a loved one deployed overseas. From a seasoned army wife, to a tough-guy dad, to a new mom, these videos show viewers how these families live during the deployment and rejoice when they are reunited.
The Perry Family
With her husband Rick finishing his fourth deployment, Gabi Perry understands the realities of a family separated by duty, but is torn by knowing that her children miss their father terribly. For eight years she has lived near Fort Stewart as an army wife, raising her three children and building a community of support for other military families. Gabi takes comfort in helping other military families deal with the separation from their loved ones, but knows that this is only a distraction from her own sense of longing for her husband's return.
The Binkley Family
Aside from a brief visit, Marshall has not seen his wife Dawn in over a year. Being a tattoo artist, he carries a tough-guy presence, but deep down, he is a sensitive guy who'll shed a tear at a photo of his wife. He is Mr. Mom to his three step-daughters and loves every second of it, even when it means playing both the homework police and the cook. He has an open and honest relationship with the girls, often discussing difficult family decisions and the dangers of Mom's job, but works hard to keep his family unit intact.
The Rathburn Family
Ariana's husband David deployed to Iraq in December of 2009 — the week after their first child was born. Being a new mom, Ariana was left raising her son, Ian, by herself in a new town without the help of friends and family. A year is a long time to be away and many changes have occurred in Ariana's life, including new friends, newly found self-reliance, and her well-earned confidence in motherhood. She worries about how David will adjust when he returns to a hard-working mom and a child walking to hug him hello.
The Road to Reunion original web series was produced by The ZiZo Group, a digital content strategy and production firm that works with many P&G brands in branded entertainment. "Operation Family Connect" was first introduced timed with the Family Movie Night movie "A Walk in My Shoes" in early December. The DVD and soundtrack are currently sold together in a bonus pack exclusively at Walmart.
For those who want to help connect deployed soldiers with their family members during the holiday season, there is also an opportunity to donate to "Operation Family Connect" at www.operationfamilyconnect.com.
The USO (United Service Organizations) lifts the spirits of America's troops and their families millions of times each year at hundreds of places worldwide. We provide a touch of home through centers at airports and military bases, top quality entertainment and innovative programs and services. We also provide critical support to those who need us most, including forward-deployed troops and their families, wounded warriors and their families and the families of the fallen.
The USO is a private, non-profit organization, not a government agency. We rely on the generosity of our volunteers and donors. In addition to individual donors and other corporate sponsors, the USO is supported by Worldwide Strategic Partners: American Airlines, AT&T Inc., BAE Systems, The Boeing Company, Clear Channel Communications, The Coca-Cola Company, Gallery Furniture, Lockheed Martin, Microsoft Corporation, Northrop Grumman Corporation, Procter & Gamble and TriWest Healthcare Alliance. We are also supported through the United Way and Combined Federal Campaign (CFC-11381). To join us in this patriotic mission and to learn more about the USO, please visit www.uso.org.
Four billion times a day, P&G brands touch the lives of people around the world. The company has one of the strongest portfolios of trusted, quality, leadership brands, including Pampers®, Tide®, Ariel®, Always®, Whisper®, Pantene®, Mach3®, Bounty®, Dawn®, Gain®, Pringles®, Charmin®, Downy®, Lenor®, Iams®, Crest®, Oral-B®, Duracell®, Olay®, Head & Shoulders®, Wella®, Gillette®, Braun® and Fusion®. The P&G community includes approximately 127,000 employees working in about 80 countries worldwide. Please visit http://www.pg.com for the latest news and in-depth information about P&G and its brands.
For over five decades, P&G Productions has produced more than 50 movies of the week, 35 years of "People's Choice Awards," 20 soap operas and a number of beauty pageants and variety shows.
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE: WMT), or "Walmart," serves customers and members more than 200 million times per week at more than 8,600 retail units under 55 different banners in 15 countries. With fiscal year 2010 sales of $405 billion, Walmart employs more than 2.0 million associates worldwide. A leader in sustainability, corporate philanthropy and employment opportunity, Walmart ranked first among retailers in Fortune Magazine's 2010 Most Admired Companies survey. Additional information about Walmart can be found by visiting www.walmartstores.com and on Twitter at http://Twitter.com/Walmartnews. Online merchandise sales are available at www.walmart.com and www.samsclub.com.
About The ZiZo Group
The ZiZo Group, Inc. (Zoom In / Zoom Out) is based in Santa Monica, California. Their focus is on serving a brand's consumers by providing a genuine benefit through content that is on equity for the brand and speaks to their core strategies. ZiZo develops digital content strategies and programs and provides turnkey production resources to produce and deliver the work.