Tag Archives: social media

Year of the Air Force Family–Deployed perspective

Over the past week, in recognition of Year of the Air Force Family, we’ve been bringing you a number of different perspectives about military life and how it relates to our active duty Airmen and their families. Today’s post comes to us from SMSgt. Rex Temple, who writes a blog called Afghanistan: My Last Tour. SMSgt Temple has been writing about his missions and deployed life via his blog and on Twitter (follow @afghanistanlast). In his post below, he talks about how much the Air Force Family has meant to him and his wife.

SMSgt Rex Temple. Source: http://afghanistanmylasttour.com/
SMSgt Rex Temple. Source: http://afghanistanmylasttour.com/

While I am on the other side of the world embedded with the Afghan National Army and trying to win the hearts and minds of the Afghan people, on the other side of the world is a special person who faces different challenges and performs a daily juggling act.  This person is none other than my loving wife.  Prior to us meeting, she was an Emmy award-winning journalist who often produced stories about military families and the stressors of deployment.  At that time, she really didn’t understand the concept of the military family but she would air the warm-hearted stories anyhow.  Now that we are married, I have introduced her to my Air Force family and with my yearlong deployment she is experiencing first-hand what she couldn’t truly appreciate when she first interviewed those resilient military spouses and children.

Overnight, she became the accountant, the cook, the mechanic, the house cleaner, the handyman and the caregiver to our furry children Charlie and Sammy.  Prior to this deployment we shared these responsibilities, but now she has to perform a circus act and balance this with a fulltime job too.  Often the news media or I will depict in my blog www.Afghanistanmylasttour.com the sacrifices military members make while being deployed and the luxuries we long to have.  But the families we leave behind make tremendous sacrifices too and my wife is no different.

It’s not just deployments, but frequent PCS moves, moving household goods, changing spouse’s jobs, uprooting children and

SMSGt Temple and wife Liisa. Source: http://afghanistanmylasttour.com/
SMSGt Temple and wife Liisa. Source: http://afghanistanmylasttour.com/

enrolling them in new schools and shipping family pets can be disruptive to military family’s lives.  Fortunately the Air Force recognizes the sacrifices military families make and provides a supporting foundation and a plethora of tools and resources to help lessen the pain.  The Airman and Family Readiness Center is like Grand Central Station and provides an array of services beneficial to the Airman and family members.  The Fitness Center is a great place to shed some pounds or maintain a healthy physique.  The Education Center is invaluable especially since the 9/11 GI Bill has been enacted.  I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the great savings when we shop at AAFES and commissary facilities.  Lastly, my favorite is traveling Space-Available to Alaska, Hawaii or foreign countries and staying at FAM camps and lodges to indulge myself during a vacation.  At MacDill AFB, I can even rent a boat and get away from reality while fishing for shark, snapper, and grouper.  These are only a handful of resources the Air Force offers to its members and their families.

Despite being in a combat zone in Afghanistan, my spouse is free to enjoy all of the activities I mentioned above without me.  My Air Force family has embraced her with both arms.  Should something tragic happen to me, I have an inner peace knowing my Air Force family will always be there for my wife.

Celebrating the Air Force Family

Year of the Air Force Family Week wrapped up last week, but the Year of the Air Force Family events will be ongoing until summer of 2010. To further recognize the Air Force family we’ve got a couple of additional posts to present this week.

Here is a link to a blog post from Robin Paoli, a.k.a. one of the people who runs @MilitaryTweets on Twitter. Robin has been a big supporter of the military branches and has taken a lot of time to talk to people involved in the military and other branches of the government. She is helping spread the word and provide details about the work that people are doing to share their story, particularly with social media.

A child’s first steps caught on camera for a deployed parent, a son in Afghanistan making a comic video poking gentle fun at his father’s birthday, a dad in Iraq telling his son “I love you”… we’ve been privileged to share these special moments and many more while helping manage the TroopTube video web site.

In the blog post Robin talks to Capt. Chris Sukach, Chief of Emerging Technology for the Air Force Public Affairs Agency about the importance of connecting families and how new media tools are helping enable that goal. So while you’re thinking of our service members, both deployed and on the home front, remember the families as well and think about the sacrifices they’ve made.

New Department of Defense website hosts social media and Q&A features

Price Floyd, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs
Price Floyd, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs

Price Floyd, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs, was on the DoDLive Bloggers Roundtable yesterday discussing the recent launch of the Department of Defense’s new home page, http://www.Defense.gov. Visitors to the new site will quickly notice icons linking to the DoD’s official presence on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, amongst others. Additionally, at the top of the page there is a box that says, “We Want to Hear From You.” This box links to a page that allows participation from the public. Specifically, it allows users the opportunity to ask questions of Defense Department leaders, vote on policy issues they want explained, and explore frequently asked questions and answers.  (Note that the new site, http://www.Defense.gov, replaces http://www.DefenseLink.mil as DoD’s main Internet presence.)

The inclusion of social media links and an open Q&A may seem at odds with recent news reports about some service branches banning access to social media sites while others are allowing access. Yet, Mr. Floyd stated that the idea for these initiatives on the new Website came directly from Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates. Sec. Gates wanted to hear from people and engage with them. Opening up Q&A and participating in social media allows the public to share their ideas and will give the Secretary, and other DoD leadership, the chance to hear what people are thinking.

Additionally, DoD realized that service members in the combat arena have been ahead of the game and using these tools for a long time and now DoD had to play catch up to communicate on the same playing field. Mr. Floyd stated that DoD has “three audiences–internal, the American public and overseas. Our target audience is 18 to 25. We want them to take part and ask questions. We want to keep the audience we have, but build up and capture younger audiences.” Including social media links shows that the DoD recognizes the importance of the potential audience, and realizes where they are participating. Mr. Floyd emphasized that operations security is still paramount and DoD needs to push that message, especially in the social media realms.

Overall, the new Website holds promise for the DoD, as well as for the service branches that fall under its purview. Transparency and conversation continue to be important for all types of organizations, and opening up dialogue is a great step to share ideas. As always, in an effort to continue open dialogue, we welcome your comments, suggestions and questions about the Air Force.

You can visit and interact with us at the following Websites:

Twitter:  http://www.twitter.com/AFPAA
Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/Usairforce
Flickr:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/usairforce
YouTube:  http://www.youtube.com/user/afbluetube
Blog:  http://airforcelive.dodlive.mil/

Posted by Paul F. Bove, Digital Media Strategist

Air Force Public Affairs Agency, Emerging Technology Division

Announcing the Official U.S. Air Force Facebook fan page

We’re excited to announce, and welcome you to visit, the new Official U.S. Air Force Facebook fan page. We will be posting the most recent news, videos, photos and blog posts from our Airmen throughout the world. Most importantly, this is a fan page for the public. This is the place to discuss all things Air Force with other people throughout the world.

Please feel free to visit us and become a fan at www.facebook.com/Usairforce. And let us know what you think and what you’d like to see in the future.

Air Force Public Affairs Agency, Emerging Technology Division

To have and not have–DoD social media access

Lately, there have been numerous articles about social media and the Department of Defense. One day there’s an article that most sites will be accessible, then later there’s an article that they’ll be closed. Today, an article in Stars and Stripes described this as, “a bad case of social networking schizophrenia” because of the near-daily changing tide.

Source: www.stripes.com

On July 31, Maj. Gen. Henry C. “Hank” Morrow, 1st Air Force commander, wrote a commentary on www.af.mil titled, “The ‘happy’ medium between OPSEC and social networking: Can it be achieved?” The General postulates, “Advocates for the sites feel they provide a forum where ideas, opinions and imagery can be freely shared with a worldwide audience. Antagonists feel that posting too much information can compromise operational security, or worse cost troops their lives, simply from a 140-character “tweet.” “So, is there a happy medium between the two? From a commander’s perspective, I believe the answer is yes, provided users stick to three basic rules of engagement.” The General goes on to lay out his guidelines for how social media can be made viable by following common sense.

So if we don’t find a happy medium, where does that leave those of us who maintain these social networking sites for the Air Force, Navy, Army, and Marines? We don’t know. Most of us who administer the sites are public affairs people. We don’t get the final say on what sites are open or blocked. The best that we can do is offer suggestions to the communications and CIO types. Ultimately, if they say that a site will be closed, it will be closed. What that means is that Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors, and Marines will have to access sites from home or via a commercial modem (as many currently do). Overall though, our hope is that we’ll continue to provide news and stories to the public and the military members using the growing social networks, and continue to allow every Airman to be a communicator.

In the meantime, you can follow the conversation and register your comments on the DoD Web 2.0 Guidance Forum. The site is “a new [Department of Defense] initiative to solicit input from the public” and “an approach to engage the public in DoD considerations of web 2.0 capabilities.”

As always, send us your comments or suggestions about what you want to see on the Air Force social media sites. We welcome your input. And keep an eye out for some upcoming changes and updates on our sites.

Paul F. Bove, Digital Media Strategist

Air Force Public Affairs Agency, Emerging Technology Division