During WWII, he helped free a French town. His reaction to seeing it today is beautiful.

From a chair in his nursing home, 91-year-old veteran Frank Mouqué can virtually stand in the town square of Armentières, France — the town he helped liberate during WWII.

"We were bombed, shelled, sniped, fired at constantly," Mouque recalled of his time in the war. "There were quite a number of casualties. I lost a lot of my friends."

Armentiéres in 1944. Image via Twine/YouTube.


With a virtual reality headset strapped to his head, Mouqué was transported to the site of his most vivid memories: seeing in rich detail the town he first stepped foot in back in 1944 and hearing the voices of people who are free, in part, because of him.

Frank Mouqué donning his VR headset. Image via Twine/YouTube.

It was weeks after D-Day and the allied troops were marching their way through France, Belgium, Holland, and Germany, freeing every city they could from Nazi occupation. One of those cities was Armentières, a tiny village in Northern France, just below the Belgian border.

After a hard fight, allied troops successfully liberated Armentières. What Mouqué remembers more than anything is the warm reception he and his company received from the people there. The families that took him in and the people who came out to thank him and his fellow soldiers are memories that have stayed with Mouqué for over 70 years.

Image via Twine/YouTube.

In honor of Remembrance Day 2016, Twine, a U.K.-based network of innovators and creatives, decided to honor Mouqué with a one-of-a-kind virtual reality experience.

They, along with Mutiny Media travelled to modern day Armentières and made a video for Mouqué in which members of the town personally thanked him for his service.

Watch Frank's virtual experience here:

The film was shot using 360-degree video technology, so when Mouqué viewed it through a virtual reality visor, it was like he was really there — walking through the streets, hearing a chorus of children sing to him, and even receiving a medal from the mayor. Mouqué was also given the medal in real life, which he said he was honored to receive on behalf of everyone who was there.

Image via Twine/YouTube.

"We saw the potential of virtual reality, but had not yet come across anyone using it for the benefit of veterans," Stuart Logan, CEO and co-founder of Twine explained via email.

Image via Twine/YouTube.

Virtual reality is brand new, meaning the boundaries of its ability to truly affect people are still being explored.

"I think this project shows just how powerful VR can be as a tool to transport people — physically and emotionally," Logan explained. "From the response of the people of Armentières when we first explained our idea — they immediately understood how poignant and important project this was going to be — all the way through to Frank’s incredible reaction to the experience, it’s been very moving."

GIF via Twine/YouTube.

"My grandfather fought in the war, so it’s personally a very significant project for me," Logan said. "It was incredibly important to recognize [veterans] and how their actions created the world we enjoy today," Logan said.

Frank Mouqué probably thought he'd never see Armentières in person again.

With a little creativity, ingenuity, and technology, he was not only able to see it, but feel like he was really there. That's a gift that is more than just a novelty. It's the heartwarming conclusion to a story that began decades ago and will echo through years to come.

Watch Frank's reaction to the virtual reality experience here:

Courtesy of Verizon
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If someone were to say "video games" to you, what are the first words that come to mind? Whatever words you thought of (fun, exciting, etc.), we're willing to guess "healthy" or "mental health tool" didn't pop into your mind.

And yet… it turns out they are. Especially for Veterans.

How? Well, for one thing, video games — and virtual reality more generally — are also more accessible and less stigmatized to veterans than mental health treatment. In fact, some psychiatrists are using virtual reality systems for this reason to treat PTSD.

Secondly, video games allow people to socialize in new ways with people who share common interests and goals. And for Veterans, many of whom leave the military feeling isolated or lonely after they lose the daily camaraderie of their regiment, that socialization is critical to their mental health. It gives them a virtual group of friends to talk with, connect to, and relate to through shared goals and interests.

In addition, according to a 2018 study, since many video games simulate real-life situations they encountered during their service, it makes socialization easier since they can relate to and find common ground with other gamers while playing.

This can help ease symptoms of depression, anxiety, and even PTSD in Veterans, which affects 20% of the Veterans who have served since 9/11.

Watch here as Verizon dives into the stories of three Veteran gamers to learn how video games helped them build community, deal with trauma and have some fun.

Band of Gamers www.youtube.com

Video games have been especially beneficial to Veterans since the beginning of the pandemic when all of us — Veterans included — have been even more isolated than ever before.

And that's why Verizon launched a challenge last year, which saw $30,000 donated to four military charities.

And this year, they're going even bigger by launching a new World of Warships charity tournament in partnership with Wargaming and Wounded Warrior Project called "Verizon Warrior Series." During the tournament, gamers will be able to interact with the game's iconic ships in new and exciting ways, all while giving back.

Together with these nonprofits, the tournament will welcome teams all across the nation in order to raise money for military charities helping Veterans in need. There will be a $100,000 prize pool donated to these charities, as well as donation drives for injured Veterans at every match during the tournament to raise extra funds.

Verizon is also providing special discounts to Those Who Serve communities, including military and first responders, and they're offering a $75 in-game content military promo for World of Warships.

Tournament finals are scheduled for August 8, so be sure to tune in to the tournament and donate if you can in order to give back to Veterans in need.

Courtesy of Verizon

via Pixabay and Pexels

The stereotype about Millenials (1981 to 1995) is that they are addicted to their smartphones. And, well, it's kind of true, right? The generation that can hardly remember what the world was like without the Internet spends a lot of time staring at their phones.

On the other hand, the stereotype about Baby Boomers (1946 to 1964) is that they are Luddites who are often stymied by technology and had a really hard time making Zoom calls when COVID-19 hit.

However, this stereotype is not so true. The truth is, they're a lot more alike than anyone thought. Is that such a bad thing?

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