HARLEYSVILLE, Pa.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--During this year’s 24-hour Thanksgiving holiday, members of U.S. Armed Forces stationed in Afghanistan and Kuwait made 35,602 telephone calls to loved ones back home from 600 military Internet cafés located in the two countries. The event was made possible by a donation from Harleysville Insurance and its more than 1,300 independent insurance agents.
This marked the sixth consecutive year that Harleysville and its agents have teamed up to provide U.S. service members in the Middle East with free phone calls through the Veterans of Foreign Wars’ Operation Uplink™ program. It was the fifth year in a row that Harleysville sponsored a Thanksgiving Free Call Day, and the company plans to do so again in 2013.
Established by the VFW in 1996, Operation Uplink provides free telephone talk time to active-duty U.S. military personnel and hospitalized veterans. Through Harleysville’s “2 for the Troops” program, the company donates $2 to Operation Uplink for every personal auto or homeowners policy sold by its independent agents. Since 2007, Harleysville’s contributions toward this special communications effort have totaled more than $240,000.
“We have more than 65,000 military service members in Afghanistan working to reduce the level of violence in that country, ensure the Taliban do not regain previously held areas, and strengthen the Afghan army,” noted Mike Penney, VFW National Military Services director and overseer of the Operation Uplink program. “Companies like Harleysville recognize the sacrifices our servicemen and women make to preserve our freedoms, and their Free Call Day support helps provide peace and comfort to military families a world apart.”
As they began their calls on Thanksgiving Day, troops were greeted by the voice of Harleysville President and Chief Operating Officer Michael Browne. “Happy Thanksgiving! Harleysville Insurance and our independent insurance agents are pleased to partner with the Veterans of Foreign Wars to provide you with free calls to the U.S. and to landlines in other U.S. home base locations,” said Browne in his message. “Thank you for your service to America!”
One of the troops who heard Browne’s greeting was a U.S. Army medic stationed in Kuwait who sent the following email to Harleysville upon completing his call home on Thanksgiving Day: “Thank you so much for sponsoring a free calling day in the Internet cafés on my U.S. Army Base. You guys made it possible for me to talk to everybody at my family's Thanksgiving table without having to worry about time. I appreciate you supporting me and my fellow soldiers while we are overseas. Your support makes a big difference to us.”
Harleysville Insurance is a leading provider of insurance products and services for small- and mid-sized businesses, as well as for individuals. Based in Harleysville, PA, Harleysville distributes its products exclusively through a network of independent agents primarily across 32 states. Harleysville joined the Nationwide family of companies in May 2012. More information can be found at www.harleysvillegroup.com.
About VFW Operation Uplink
The VFW’s Operation Uplink™ was launched in 1996 to connect active-duty troops and hospitalized veterans with their loved ones. The program, one of three operated by VFW National Military Services, uses contributions from supporters to purchase phone time for the men and women who are serving—or have served—in the U.S. military, as well as hospitalized veterans. Further information can be found on the VFW National Military Services website at www.vfw.org/NMS.