America Supports You: Site Bridges Gap Between Troops, Families
By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Jan. 9, 2008 In 1997, a Web site kept one family’s far-flung friends and relatives up to date on the status of a loved one facing a serious medical condition.
CaringBridge began offering free, personalized Web sites to keep family and friends connected during a loved one’s medical struggles in 1997. The organization is now offering the same opportunity to servicemembers and their families who are coping with serious medical issues or long absences. Courtesy photo
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Today, that Web site has grown into CaringBridge, and it helps more than 16 million families a year, including troops injured in the line of duty, stay connected.
“When someone is injured or wounded, everyone wants to know what’s happening -- family, friends, neighbors, fellow servicemen and women, the list goes on and on,” said Chris Moquist, the organization’s marketing and communications director. “But dealing with the communication aspect of a serious injury, on top of trying to help and be there for the injured person, is often just too overwhelming (for immediate family).”
Through its free Web sites, CaringBridge helps relieve some of the pressure to constantly update everyone who wants to know. Users can quickly and easily set up personalized sites where they can post the latest updates.
Those concerned with prying eyes finding personal information posted to the Web site need not worry. “CaringBridge Web sites are private and not searchable by search engines,” Moquist said. “There are additional levels of privacy and security a CaringBridge Web site author can add as well.”
The sites also are convenient for those checking in from across the country or around the globe, Moquist said. Because everything is Web-based, times zones are not a factor, as they are with phone calls, he noted.
In addition, friends and family are notified via e-mail every time a new update is posted. Upon receiving that notification they can leave messages of support whenever they want, and the family or servicemember can read them when it’s convenient.
Originally intended to bridge the geographical gap during medical situations, CaringBridge has expanded its services to servicemembers facing long absences, including deployments, Moquist said.
“Rather than have to repeat the same update over and over again, a family member can simply post the latest news,” he said.
CaringBridge is a new supporter of America Supports You, a Defense Department program connecting citizens and corporations with military personnel and their families.
“The biggest benefit of being (affiliated with) America Supports You is additional exposure to military audiences,” Moquist said. “Our goal is for CaringBridge to be available to every family or soldier who needs it.”
Partnerships with two other supporters of the America Supports You program, The Wounded Warrior Project and Fisher House, are helping CaringBridge achieve that goal. Each assists wounded servicemembers and their families.