Kids, military moms and sisters of all sorts are included in our annual Veteran’s Day post honoring “all things girl” week on Shaping Youth, so I’m proud to announce the premiere of a brand new community just launched today (USA Today coverage here) that connects all the dots together…
Inspiring. Uniting. Befriending. Supporting. MyVetwork.
Billed as the “first-ever free community of military personnel and those who care about them,” MyVetwork should prove to be a vibrant social networking hub to locate, share, find, source, hang, and reach out to others aligned with the armed forces.
Why not a Facebook group or a specialty offshoot of an existing platform? Because the commonalities shared by veterans and the military community are distinct and intimately interwoven. To this day I have civilian friends who will never ‘get it.’ Like the many arms of a starfish, military service touches a multitude of lives, regardless of who is actually wearing the uniform.
Then I widened it to moms with daughters in the military…then little girls with moms in the military…and spouses and partners and sisters and…well, you see the point.
‘Women who serve’ takes on a far flung meaning…And as Donna Musil’s excellent documentary “Brats, Our Journey Home” conveys, KIDS who grew up in the mobile lifestyle of the service as ‘military brats,’ ‘served’ in their own capacity…often becoming global citizens with a worldview far different from many peers.
Life as a brat is unique in itself with traumas and dramas and joys and exposure to profoundly international, geographic mind-mapping that almost becomes like a schoolyard clique and tribe of its own on a global scale.
Speaking in verbal code, I dare you to watch what happens among strangers at a 4th of July or Memorial Day picnic as people gravitate toward one another on the basis of shared history, sniffing out touchpoints.
Stars and Stripes = newspaper. (well, actually, now the indie military media is also a .com)
“What theater were you in?” Does not usually refer to the local cineplex…
“Were you a junior?” Is not a high school classification…
Anyway, you get the drift. It’s complicated. And there’s a lot of shorthand.
Many immediately attempt to jump into one’s shoes thinking they’re combat boots, without getting to know the nuances, bonding forms of shared experiences, and ripple effect of service to the country.
Trying to understand the resource needs, logistics and pragmatics of a military family is kind of like that scene in Freedom Writers when teacher Erin Gruwell shows up in pearls entering a classroom in East L.A. ready to ‘fix’ certain things. You can’t ‘support’ minds OR bodies without first understanding the culture and working within it.
That goes for youth. For women in the military. For ANY cultural hub. This, is the brilliance and beauty of the MyVetwork community.
I should mention that I found OUT about MyVetwork from another network of my own, my Age of Conversation 2 co-contributor Susan Willett Bird, who is married to a Marine with two purple hearts from Vietnam. (and no doubt has a heart of gold herself for taking on this massive endeavor to help get the word out for MyVetwork)
Susan views this social media as a “word of mouth trust engine” using the age of conversation in the very best sense. As the release explains:
While some existing web sites allow military personnel to post their service records, provide lengthy lists of links to service providers or, in some cases, are merely online military “shopping malls,” MyVetwork invites active duty, retired, and veteran military members and their families to build their own community and interact on multiple levels of shared interests.
“Why is it that no one has ever asked the military community what they need?” says John R. Campbell, Founder and CEO of MyVetwork, and a decorated Vietnam era Marine officer.
“We’ve conducted hundreds of interviews across service branches, ranks and cities and have heard time and time again about the need for the military community to be able to connect with one another, share stories, exchange resources, and give and receive support. This fundamental and natural channel for sharing information is long overdue.”
There’s SO much important information that needs distilled into a much more user-friendly form, so I’m optimistic MyVetwork’s mission will succeed on a variety of levels beyond the call of duty and data dumping.
For example, I’m still very involved with V.A. hospitals seeking out clinical trials and care connections and TriCare for Life/Medicare layers on behalf of my folks…
…Just think of how great it would be to log into a system and talk to someone my age in the ‘sandwich generation’ who has “been there done that” and can lend a hand to cut through the clutter. (‘don’t ever let them tell you blahdeblah, or make sure you bring xyz”)
I’m also pleased MyVetwork is taking their resource capacity beyond the superficial ‘friending’ level too, adding elements for deep diving into some of the emotional forums providing a safe haven for females to be ‘off duty’ while ‘on duty.’
For the record, “women who serve” WAS going to be my headline, but judging by my Google search disaster and my recent akismet spam trash on this blog (600,000 would you believe?) it’s far too risky…sigh.
What a shame our society has grown tolerant of such misogynistic crud…and don’t get me started on what popped up in the ‘istock photo files’ for ‘military female’…e-freakin’ gad. I’d like to call out the Armed Forces on that one alone and have ‘em arrested for impersonating a woman of honor.
Yes, yes, I recognize those gender dynamics extend WAY beyond the foxhole, but tapping into the “females in a male world” angle opens up far too many double-edged swords to tackle in one blog post…It makes me ache for our daughters everywhere that we’ve objectified to this level or pornification. Sorry, I digress…ahem. Back to MyVetwork:
“Member profiles and sophisticated matching algorithms build a visual pin-view that makes it easy for participants to find others with similar interests; make peer-to-peer recommendations; locate long lost buddies; find other parents of wounded veterans eager to exchange critical information; look for support from someone who has “walked in their boots;” give, receive mentoring or career advice; and exchange information on a virtually unlimited number of topics.”
I personally signed on as a ‘friend’ to give it a whirl and found you can pinpoint where you are in the world or stay incognito and just hang back and chat. (screenshot below of the landing page)
There’s a column for “shoutouts” (clearly there are 21st century media folks involved; yep, just took a peek under ‘sponsors’ you’ll find agency.com, TBWA and WF360, Susan’s firm!) a section for alliances, (all the biggies are there) stories, (gotta have those) and a welcome that sets up the vision as a literary outpost and ‘not an us vs. them but a WE’ which feels very warm, inviting, and inclusive.
All ages and stages are welcome aboard, but for all things girl week, I can certainly see how this could be a conduit for women to really be heard.
A safe place to sound off on military ‘stuff’ with other trusted women, discuss family chaos, teens acting out, or toddlers coping with mom or dad’s absence (much safer than the FB privacy issues, eh?) …
Definitely can see the dire need for swapping overseas tips on everything from language skills to comfort food cravings and ‘where to finds’ (always a biggie!) …and it’s a logical place for military households walking through life on a similar trail, to help each other from slipping on the ol’ loose gravel. Cool.
Even the process of setting up a profile is different, as they ask for identity personification, as well as the basic ‘why are you here’ algorithm match-up.
By choosing words that resonate, limiting to ten, you tier the basics first, then drill down to the usual social media profiles of “The more detailed you are, the more meaningful your connections will be.”
They segue to connectivity right off the bat, (whether you want to exchange ideas or just information, offer/receive support, which war or conflict era you associate yourself with primarily etc.) and enable you to define your parameters from the get go in terms of how you want to grow your network. (find long lost buddies, reach out to new faces with shared interests anywhere in the world, etc.)
I’m sure they’ll get some good conversations going if this is any indication…Here’s a post from Susan Bird’s aptly named ‘Birds Eye View’ (you can tell she’s in marketing, eh?) where one of the MyVetwork colleagues from Switzerland writes about the differing perceptions of ‘military’ in the U.S. and abroad. Insightful. (I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said, “I’m Switzerland on this issue” so it really drives the point home!)
Here’s another post from Susan about the meaning of the color purple and how MyVetwork will be using purple as an ongoing theme for Veteran’s Day to ‘sport purple’ and ‘support’ veterans. I need to have my daughter take a photo of me in my purple dress today and post it in honor of the many veterans in my own Venn diagram of life…
Brava, Susan, I salute you for bringing this to my attention! Good luck with the launch…and may this community thrive and engage on a global scale.
Here are a few more press tidbits from today’s release:
MYVETWORK LAUNCH INVITES MILITARY PERSONNEL AND THEIR FAMILIES
TO IGNITE PERSONAL CONNECTIONS AND FORM MEANINGFUL, TRUSTED COMMUNITY
First-of-its-kind free online community connects military members’ passions, experience, needs and interests
MyVetwork issues national call-to-action to wear purple on Veterans Day as a sign of unity for the military and their families with the goal of increasing visibility for military support
- Veterans Day is the special day when our nation stops to honor and give thanks to our military veterans and their families. But what happens when the parades are over and the yellow ribbons come down? One challenge is the difficulty service members report in sustaining connections with one another. A second is the feeling reported by some that on the other 364 days of the year, their military status becomes invisible to those around them.
- The mission of MyVetwork (www.MyVetwork.com) is to empower members of the military, their families and others to initiate and expand the connections among them and to provide access to the critical resources that can get them what they need— all in one place. This has not been possible until now. “The community is built upon a dynamic customized platform that matches passions, experiences, needs and interests specific to people in the military and those who support them, providing the basis for a community that’s shaped by and for its members.”
- Many of our 1.6 million troops deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan return home to challenging times for them and their families. After the yellow ribbons come down, it can be a struggle to plug back into pre-combat lives, with few support systems in place for guidance. Worse yet, many of our military return to small towns or neighborhoods where few people have been touched by the war, and most are unaware of difficulties military families face in their “re-entry” effort.
- Trauma literature teaches that connection and community are important curative factors for recovery from trauma. “MyVetwork replaces the sense of isolation with the comfort of community for military personnel and their families,” says Jaine Darwin, Clinical Instructor in Psychology, Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School and co-director of SOFAR, Strategic Outreach to Families of All Reservists. “As a conduit for the exchange of information and support, MyVetwork provides a way to join hands across the nation during deployment as well as during the challenging time of reintegration.”
- Every new MyVetwork membership instantly helps others. As the community builds, the collective resources are enriched, increasing the breadth of possible matches on a broad range of needs and topics. Not only can individuals interact; groups providing needed services and resources can use MyVetwork to increase their exposure and expand their membership.
- Large Veterans Service Organizations (VSO’s) like the VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars) with its 1.9 million members; AMVETS (600,000); and the American Legion Auxiliary (750,000) are partnering with MyVetwork to provide a new means of connection and interaction among their members. Similarly, smaller groups that provide services are signing on to participate under the MyVetwork umbrella.
- In addition to the large VSO’s, some of the groups that have a presence on MyVetwork at launch include:
- · VET Foundation (Careers and transition)
- · Students Veterans of America (Education)
- · Army Wife Talk Radio (Families)
- · The Coming Home Project; Strategic Outreach for Families of all Reservists (SOFAR);
- · Vets4Vets; Academy Women (Support)
- Get involved and show your support for our service men and women!
- On November 11, MyVetwork is calling on everyone who is, or wants to acknowledge, a member of the military (living or deceased) to wear purple, a color long associated with valor,color of unity: mix Army green, Air Force blue, Marine Red, Navy blue and Coast Guard Blue and the result is purple.
Whether an active member of the military, retired, veteran, family member or simply an advocate, let your support be known and sport purple in any form on Veterans Day.
MyVetwork (www.MyVetwork.com) is a not for profit organization with 501(c)(3) status, and is free to members. MyVetwork will operate a for-profit arm, whose relationships with a select group of corporations and organizations with a demonstrated commitment to support our Military, will make it possible for; MyVetwork to become self-sustaining. The two entities interact pursuant to an operating agreement, overseen by an independent Stewards Council.
Random Resources for Veteran’s Day
Kids’ Veteran’s Day Activities, Crafts, Poetry, Word Search/Reading List
This post is dedicated to my mother, Beth R. Jussel, who served the United States Navy and my father’s career in ways neither of those military forces will ever fully understand.
Mom, I salute you with all my heart, love, and gratitude, for the courage you’ve shown, the strength you’ve instilled, and the sacrifices you’ve made time and time again.