Blog Offers Support to Military Families
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Aug. 25, 2009 The Defense Department has launched a blog called “Family Matters” that is dedicated to providing resources and support to military families.
Elaine Wilson, "Family Matters" blog author and an editor for American Forces Press Service, poses with her children, Antonia and Jacob. The Defense Department launched the new blog to engange military families on topics ranging from deployments to everyday life. Courtesy photo
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
The blog – which can be found at http://afps.dodlive.mil – features tips from experts, and military-related topics that run the gamut from deployments and separations to education benefits and child care.
“Our goal is to touch on topics that are important and relevant to military families,” said Elaine Wilson, the blog’s author and an editor for American Forces Press Service. “Military families confront unique challenges and issues, and we’re hoping people can turn to this blog for information and support.”
Wilson served for nearly eight years in the active-duty Air Force and three years in the Air Force Reserve before becoming a defense civilian, experience she brings to the blog.
“I remember those early morning PT runs, the late-night calls and the constant juggling of mission and family,” she said. “It was tough. I was married to a military member and, one day, became a divorced single parent of two. Balancing that with military life, particularly overseas, presented some tough challenges.”
Wilson said she will share many of her stories in hopes of starting a dialogue with others who are dealing with the same types of issues. This two-way communication will be vital to the blog’s success, she said.
“We read every comment, and respond when appropriate to the person writing in,” she said.
Many comments are forwarded to defense experts for response, she said. “A great aspect of this blog is that many readers will have the opportunity to have their comments and ideas viewed by defense officials.”
Wilson noted that a recent comment was elevated to the desk of the Army secretary. “A military spouse made some great suggestions and comments, and we felt they could make an impact, so we forwarded them to higher-level officials,” she said. “Anyone can make a difference, and it can start with something as simple as a blog comment.”
A heartfelt comment can make more of an impact among the blog’s readers than the blog entries themselves, Wilson said.
“We had a reader make a comment about suicides among family members,” she said. “That sparked other comments on the same topic that offered everything from support to helping resources. I then dedicated a blog to helping resources. It had a positive snowball effect.”
The blog has received numerous comments since its launch in early August, including some positive feedback. “Thanks for the new blog, looks great and useful,” a comment says. And another: “This is another great resource by [the Defense Department].”
Perhaps most importantly, Wilson said, the blog is aimed at letting people know they’re not alone in their everyday struggles.
“Whether dealing with the after-effects of a deployment or the challenges of home life, we’re hoping this blog will help create a common bond among military family members,” Wilson said. “And also convey the ongoing caring and concern defense officials have for our military families.”