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LIFElines: Promising Better Quality of Life in DoD

By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 28, 1999 – Pentagon officials are taking advantage of satellite communications and the World Wide Web to improve the quality of life of service members, reservists and defense civilians.

A live 90-minute television broadcast Jan. 27 premiered LIFElines, a two-part quality of life initiative that opens the door to a new world of support to people throughout the Defense Department. LIFElines leverages the power of partnerships and four telecommunications technologies -- the Internet, teleconferencing, satellite broadcasting and cable television, Navy officials said.

LIFElines' first component, the Quality of Life Broadcast Network, is a worldwide partnership that will produce and air quality of life programming. The second, the Quality of Life Mall, is an Internet home page at www.lifelines4qol.org [link no longer available] that will provide information and electronic access to support services.

At present, LIFElines will serve mainly sailors, Marines and reservists, but all service branches are expected to participate in the program, Navy officials said.

"These components are designed to overcome traditional barriers to quality of life service delivery -- barriers such as transportation, child care, geography, the possible stigma of seeking help, privacy concerns and work schedules," Navy Secretary Richard Danzig stated in his Internet greeting to new QOL Mall users.

LIFElines is available around the clock and around the world, he continued. "We hope that makes it helpful to as many of you as possible -- especially those in remote duty stations and while you are at sea."

The QOL Broadcast Network's premier broadcast featured Danzig, Carolyn Becraft, assistant Navy secretary for manpower and reserve affairs, and Charles Cragin, assistant defense secretary for reserve affairs. The senior defense officials talked about what LIFElines means to military members.

LIFElines gives sailors and Marines worldwide an opportunity to learn about Navy benefits and capabilities, Danzig said. The initiative also gives Navy officials a way to stay in touch with their people.

"I very much value the interactive quality of this instrument," Danzig said. "It gives us an opportunity to hear from people in an organization of three-quarters of a million people where it's difficult to have a sense of what people care about most."

Becraft, speaking as a former service member and military spouse, said LIFElines will help families, especially during the frequent moves that are part of members' careers.

"We have people in isolated areas who move to meet the needs of their service," Becraft said. "They need quality information at the time that they want it. That's one of the beauties of LIFElines. All the partners who come together can create their own [site] tailored to their needs, and yet they can hot-link to all of the available information. It's limitless."

Cragin said LIFElines, once fully operational in DoD, will vastly improve and expand such important services as deployment and family support, reserve component mobilizations, returns and reunions, crisis and casualty assistance, and voluntary education. LIFElines, he said, is especially important to the reserve components and recruiters dispersed throughout the country.

"My office is committed to encouraging the use of LIFElines to provide the best possible services to those who, prior to today, have had the least access to our available support services resources," Cragin said. "LIFElines is truly a national model. It is leading the way for human resource services by reinventing many key business practices, which will make it possible, for the first time in our history, for our total force to take care of each other and their quality of life needs while meeting their missions, regardless of the time of day or duty location."

QOL Broadcast Network programs will air on public access cable channels, base television channels and other television outlets serving large military populations. Videotapes and CD-ROMs of live broadcasts will be made available at cost to individuals, participating organizations and commands. An online QOL broadcast network directory is in development, Navy officials said.

When the QOL Mall Web site is fully operational, the officials said, users will be able to "shop" for housing, apply for child care, take courses, receive counseling, gain information about medical care, apply for a loan, buy uniforms, and more. Service members will be able to complete a variety of electronic transactions, such as requesting a sponsor and verifying military training and education.

The home page will also feature chat rooms so visitors can talk to experts about a variety of personnel or quality of life issues, officials said.

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