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RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) – A group in Virginia is empowering veterans by using technology and training to get them back on their feet.

When Tech for Troops sees old, unwanted computer parts, it looks like opportunity.

“The in-need veterans, low income or homeless veterans and their families who are trying to get out of homelessness, we provide them with a free computer and as well we give them the training on how to use that computer,” said Mark Casper, Executive Director of Tech for Troops.

Last year, the Virginia-based non-profit provided 750 computers to veterans in need.

“We had a homeless vet come in, first computer he’s ever owned, Vietnam vet, and he’d never been online before. So, our teacher/instructor asked him to search himself online because he was a doo-wop singer back before Vietnam and he saw himself online singing as a young man, which blew everybody away,” Casper said.

For Tech for Troops, it’s about more than just getting computers into the right hands.

“I don’t want it to go to somebody and they’re going to put it in the closet, or they’re going to sell it or something like that. What I want it to do is be used because it’s a tool,” expressed Casper.

Melvin Whitfield is an Operations Manager at Tech for Troops. He said the group’s mission hits home for him and other veterans on staff.

“It kinda struck my heart a bit, because at a point I was a homeless vet myself,” said Whitfield, an Army vet who now teaches a weekly computer class to homeless veterans.

Tech for Troops wants to broaden its reach, which all starts with donations, including your unwanted hardware.

In addition to refurbishing computers and laptops, the group also recycles. Since 2014, they estimate they’ve kept about 210 tons of computer materials out of landfills.

Click here to donate now.

SEMINOLE, Fla. (WFLA) – A Pinellas County man is fighting for his father, who fought for this country. 
Edwin Carle, 79, contends his father was wounded in World War I and never received the Purple Heart he deserved.  Now he is determined to right what he believes is a 100-year wrong.

In the war to end all wars, 23-year-old Ralph Carle fought in the U.S. Army’s 119th Regiment from 1918 to 1919 in Europe.

Ralph Carle died in 1943, when his youngest son Edwin was just 4 years old.

“I never really got to know him, but I had a real father,” Edwin said.

Edwin heard stories that his father was wounded in the war. He found documents from the United States Veterans Bureau that date back to 1932. Others from the disabled American Veterans of the World War are from 1934.  Both documents state that Ralph Carle was wounded during World War I. He suffered a shrapnel wound above the right eye. A doctor stated gas damaged his eyes.

According to the Department of the Army, that isn’t good enough to prove Ralph was wounded in action.
“All I keep getting is, well you gotta do this or call that, or write to them and so on and so forth, and fill out this authorization,” Edwin explained.

Edwin wrote congressmen, senators and presidents, asking that his father be awarded a Purple Heart.
“I’m turning 80 in January, you know, I don’t have that much longer. You know, I want him to get what he deserves,” Edwin stated.

Another road block, a fire at the National Personnel Records Center destroyed records of many World War I veterans.

Edwin was so young when his father Ralph died, he barely remembers him, but he is drawn to this fight.
“It’s just something that I feel he deserves, and not knowing him I feel, I feel it will bring some connection to between me and my father,” Edwin said.