No one could know what it's like to be stationed overseas on a military mission, but one thing is pretty clear: Being separated from loved ones for so long has to be one of the worst aspects of deployment. To help keep spirits up and to thank them for their service, Google is letting uniformed U.S. troops serving abroad call friends and family back in the U.S. for free until the end of the year (at least).

For this to work, the military personnel has to have a valid United States Military email addresses (ending in ".mil"). Then they can use Gmail to place the call. Here's how it works:

  1. Access your Google Account and then add your valid .mil email address to it.
  2. From inside Gmail, click on the "Call" link at the top of the Gmail chat area. (You may have to install the voice and video Gmail plugin.)

Friends and family here at home can also call troops abroad too. While it's not free, it costs a mere $.02/minute.

This is a great addition to the toolbox of vid chat and voip options out there, so please forward this to anyone you know who's serving abroad. They'd probably really love to hear a friendly voice once in a while.

[via Gmail Blog]