America Supports You: Free Web Site Keeps Military Families Connected
By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Oct. 1, 2007 Military families have a new tool to help them share everyday happenings with deployed loved ones thanks to a national troop-support group.
CinCHouse.com started planning its Family Hub program after the success of its similar free Spouse Club Hub program, which family readiness groups use as a communication tool.
“We had a lot or families requesting to make Family Hubs, but (the Spouse Club Hubs) just weren’t designed for that at the time, so we had to turn away a lot of families,” said Amy Palmer, Operation Homefront’s interim chief executive officer and vice president of operations and development.
Operation Homefront is CinCHouse.com’s parent organization. Both are supporters of America Supports You, a Defense Department program connecting citizens and corporations with military personnel and their families serving at home and abroad.
A little more than a week ago, CinCHouse.com was able to answer military families’ calls for a family version of the Spouse Club Hubs. To date, 243 families have taken advantage of the new tool, which provides a quick method of keeping all family members informed.
The new Family Hubs, among other things, make it easier for families to exchange pictures, Palmer said. “They can’t always send pictures because of the firewalls,” she said. “(Now) they can upload those photos to the (Family Hub) Web site, and the servicemember can view them from a link.”
Overall, Family Hub Web sites make it easier for families to share information, journals and important milestones with a deployed servicemember, Palmer said.
Thanks to the generosity of defense contractor Lockheed Martin, the Family Hub program is free to any military family, Meredith Leyva, founder of CinCHouse.com and Operation Homefront, said.
“Lockheed Martin and its employees are united in gratitude to our servicemembers and their families,” said Jim Knotts, the company’s director of corporate and community affairs. “We understand the challenges our troops and their families face. Many of our employees are former military. Many are reservists who have been activated for service in Iraq and Afghanistan, and others … serve in harm’s way alongside our military customers.
“We know how much it means for servicemembers to stay connected with their families,” he said in a CinCHouse.com news release.
The sites are password protected and operationally secure, and the program is set up with those who are less-than-computer-savvy in mind, Leyva said.
“The spouses saw (with the Spouse Club Hubs) how it takes 10 minutes for even the worst technophobes to set up a beautiful site, and the operational security makes families feel better about protecting sensitive information from the public,” she said.
Family Hubs allow military families to register for a Web site and select a domain name at CinCHouse.com. They can begin building their Web sites by choosing from pre-designed graphics, adding photos and text, and creating photo and video galleries after receiving e-mail verification of eligibility and successful registration.