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HOLLYWOOD (CBSMiami) – We know that every day more and more seniors are living longer, healthier and more productive lives and they eager are to keep up with fast-changing technology because it’s critical to their everyday lives.
We recently visited a program where foreign war vets are making sure they know how to stay connected on all levels.
We were there as Retired Sergeant Arthur Williams asked about how to take a picture from one folder and move it onto another on his computer laptop.
Welcome to the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 8195 – Stone of Hope Military Outreach and Wellness Center in Hollywood where a group of foreign war veterans is learning how to navigate the internet and keep themselves connected to a changing world.
This 10-week program was created by the South Florida Institute on Aging after leaders discovered seniors were having trouble accessing resources online.
These courses help to minimize the current technological divide seniors are facing, helping them to better communicate with family and more adequately address medical, social, financial and professional needs in a modern way.
The goal is to help seniors thrive both economically and socially as they live longer, healthier and more productive lives.
Retired Sergeant Major Arthur Williams, who served in Vietnam, the Florida National Guard and in Iraq, says he has a whole new perspective on technology.
“I didn’t feel comfortable using my computer at home, but now since I’ve been going through this class I feel a little more comfortable going in my computer, clicking on different apps without being afraid that I’m going to crash it,” Williams said.
And that’s thanks to teachers like George Robert who volunteer and share their knowledge about computers. Robert is a US Army veteran who served in the 287th MP Co. Berlin Germany.
George is the recipient of the Miami VA Healthcare System Volunteer Shining Star Award for 2015 and received the President’s Lifetime Achievement Award for volunteer service in 2016.
Earlier this year, he began teaching basic technology classes to other senior veterans and their families in partnership with the VA and the VFW Post 8195. Robert is also the former owner of a software development company.
“I’m busy every day now. It’s all volunteering but it’s actually the most fruitful thing that I’ve done so far in my life. I’m the happiest I’ve ever been in my life because I’m seeing some great things from our veteran population and I’m seeing their commitment, seeing them come from no technology or some technology and seeing them become so successful in it is really gratifying,” said Robert.
“So what I see for the future is being open to technology is going open up the world to them because they’ll be able to see everything,” said Robert.
And with that access and connection, Robert hopes this will also help seniors who often have to deal with the reality of loneliness.
“They have gone through some tough stuff and they can laugh at themselves is a good thing. We have a free flowing class, it encourages them to speak out and I listen to them. We’re hoping that some of the things we do today opens up avenues to let them know they’re not alone. They’re just a touch away,” said Robert.
The computer classes are open to all seniors through the South Florida Institute on Aging but what they really need to meet the demand is volunteers to teach these computer classes. If you are 55 and older, and have lots of patience, reach out to the South Florida Institute on Aging at www.thesofia.org or call 954-484-7117 extension 7.
The technology training program is free of charge to seniors throughout South Florida that are 60 years or older.
The classes have received an overwhelmingly positive response, with a list of over 400 seniors eagerly waiting to enroll in upcoming 10 week tech courses.
Beginning level courses teach basic computer literacy, with more advanced classes (Money Matters, Social Media and Beyond the Basics) being unveiled in 2019.