Commentary

New Social Nets for Military Personnel

Recently a number of new social networks for veterans and active-duty military personnel have launched, with the goal of fostering continuing connections both inside and outside the service. Unsurprisingly, these social platforms also double as professional networks, helping active-duty personnel find postings and veterans find employment back in civilian society.

 

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One such network which launched in May, Veterans Together, just released a mobile app for the iPad and iPhone, giving members (including family members of veterans) on-the-go access to features like job postings and resumes, directories of veteran-owned businesses, professional development opportunities, classifieds, home sales and listings, discussion groups and forums, and special events.

 

Just as important, the mobile app will facilitate the group support aspect of Veterans Together, according to CEO Colin Valencia, who noted that “there are Veterans who find it hard to adjust to civilian life but through Veterans Together, they’ve been able to find people who had similar experiences, connect with them and learn from them. The app makes it easier for members to stay connected and keep current with their contacts no matter where they are.” Veterans Together is supported by sponsors, donations, and advertising, and donates 10% of its profits to veterans’ causes.

 

Another social network, RallyPoint, serves both active-duty and former military personnel with an emphasis on career development and professional networking. The platform is especially robust on the active-duty side, which includes an interactive, hierarchical org chart showing all the current U.S. military commands around the world and their current staffing levels -- allowing personnel to search for potential postings and new opportunities they might not have been aware of. A few weeks ago RallyPoint opened up to include veterans and a number of big companies that are on the market to hire veterans, hopefully facilitating their post-military career transitions as well.

 

The military itself is no slouch when it comes to employing social network technology. Previously I wrote about a Department of Defense social network, CompanyCommand, which allows captains to share information that would otherwise have to go up (and back down) the entire chain of command. At the upper levels, the DoD also launched a Strategic Knowledge Integration Web, which provides senior commanders with real-time command status, news, and information feeds, as well as a blogging function. In September 2010 the DoD launched a military-wide Facebook-like feature called MilBook, accessible to all military personnel. Subsequently MilBook was joined by MilWiki and MilBlog, all of which replicate functions of their general purpose namesakes behind the military firewall. In 2011 the Defense Information Systems Agency added a social feature, called “Community,” to its Forge.mil platform for online collaboration.

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