Apr 02 2003

Senate Passes Bill to Provide Free Phone Time to Military Personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) said he was pleased with Senate passage of legislation to provide American military personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan with up to $40 of free telephone calling time each month. The legislation was introduced by Senator John McCain (R-AZ) and sponsored by Graham, Senator George Allen (R-Virginia), Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), Senator Judd Gregg (R-NH), and Senator Zell Miller (D-GA). This bill is part of a package of bills introduced by Graham and colleagues to improve benefits and the quality of life for U.S. military personnel. “It is important to provide the men and women who are risking their lives every day with the ability to contact their loved ones,” said Graham, a member of the Armed Services Committee. “They are serving a noble cause overseas, protecting the American way of life and advancing the cause of freedom in Iraq. For their sacrifice, they deserve the comfort and support of talking to their family and friends.” In addition to providing free phone time, this bill calls on the Secretary of Defense to work with telecommunications providers to supply additional phones for the troops on the front lines. Funding for the telephone calling program comes from the Secretary of Defense’s existing telecommunications programs and capabilities, private support organizations, private entities offering free and reduced-cost services, and programs to enhance morale and welfare. The program will terminate sixty days after the Secretary of Defense determines Operation Iraqi Freedom has ended.