MyVetwork: Connecting The Digital Dots For Veterans Globally

veterans dayNov. 11, 2009 With the outpouring of sadness regarding Fort Hood, the scary statistics surfacing on PTSD and women soliders under ‘friendly fire’ from missles of a different kind, and work-family/depression conflicts, I figured it was high time for some GOOD news this Veteran’s Day.

Every year on Veteran’s Day, I dedicate my post to either my dad, Capt. A.R. Jussel (USN Retired) or my mom, Beth Jussel, who is a veteran of military service in a different capacity…

So today, I’m going to put forth a twist and add my ‘EarthSeeds -eco-pacifist-Burning Man-artsySusBus’ bro Mark, who did his own stint of duty, but is being recognized here for being the veteran “connector” in our family, keeping in touch with far flung friends and military bonds before MyVetwork was even created.

I wrote about MyVetwork in detail when it launched, in a head-banging, ‘why didn’t I think of that’ moment, as it provides social media tools, resources, outreach, job leads, and valuable assets to support veterans globally using the power of media in the first-ever social network “built BY and FOR those who have served and the people who love them.”

Purposefully inclusive, the MyVetwork community ‘gets it’ that military service goes FAR beyond the one wearing the uniform. I respect that immensely, because as Donna Musil’s excellent documentary “Brats, Our Journey Home” conveys, KIDS who grew up in the mobile lifestyle of the service as ‘military brats,’ ’served’ in their own capacity…often becoming global citizens with a worldview far different from many peers.

bratsAs I’ve said before, Life as a brat (okay, Navy Junior) is unique in itself with traumas and dramas and joys and exposure to profoundly international, geographic mind-mapping that almost becomes like a schoolyard clique and tribe of its own on a global scale. So while I may not be a veteran in uniform, I’m clearly a veteran of the lifestyle, as is my ‘connector’ brother who hasn’t even seen the cool digital conduit MyVetwork has to offer.

Veterans of all ages will appreciate that it’s easy and free (yes, even you, Dad) as it’s a no fuss, no muss hub uniting pragmatic data and useful resources (mentorships, discounts, home loans, schooling, VA hospitals) with shared commonalities on the friendship front.

myvetwork-pinmapRight now MyVetwork is amidst a massive outreach campaign to glean 100,000 new users via today’s “Digital Veteran’s Day”…so spread the word to young and old alike and if you’re a digizen already, help out someone who isn’t to show them how the whole social media ‘make a profile’ concept works.

Takes five minutes. (honest, Dad…)

From senior services to those soldiers returning from recent deployment, there’s a vital need and mega-resources just waiting to be used…

You just pick from a simple drop-down menus to highlight your interests in each category, then whammo, the techno-cool powers that be (matching algorithms in search-n-map mode) go to work to build a visual “pin-view” of other member’s connections in the community.

Perfect way for veterans young and older to “look for support from someone who has “walked in their boots;” give, receive mentoring or career advice; and exchange information on a virtually unlimited number of topics.”

female-militaryThis recent article floored me on the trauma that’s taken place with many military women (coined as MST, military sexual trauma) and Yale is even launching a first-ever study about it soon…

MyVetwork seems like a safe place to sound off on this kind of military trauma with other trusted females, discussing very personal post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), re-entry and emotional upheaval…As well as family chaos, teens acting out, or toddlers coping with mom or dad’s absence and more. It’s particularly refreshing to see MyVetwork take their resource capacity beyond the superficial ‘friending’ to deep dive into some of these highly emotional forums to provide a safe haven for females to be ‘off duty’ while ‘on duty.’

This seems like it would be a vital need among “women who serve.”

For the record, “women who serve” WAS going to be my original headline on the more detailed MyVetwork post for All Things Girl week last year, but my Google search disaster and akismet spam trash on the blog (now close to a million spams) had me wincing at the misogynistic crud not to mention even the ‘istock photo files’ for ‘military female’…e-freakin’-gad.

I’d like to call out the Armed Forces on that one alone and have ‘em arrested for impersonating a woman of honor!

My Vetwork is also a perfect place for veterans and active duty families to swap overseas tips on everything from language skills to comfort food cravings and ‘where to finds’ (always a biggie!) …and you can hear from the soldiers on the front lines in blogs like Afghan Journal which is gripping and a bit surreal on a digital level.

virtual-iraq.jpgPersonally, I’d like to hear a forum of folks sounding off ‘from the inside out’ in terms of whether virtual worlds like Virtual Iraq or Virtual Afghanistan being used for PTSD help or hinder the healing for veterans.

We’ve seen huge therapeutic impact of virtual worlds in some settings, but the combat/PTSD one continues to baffle me at about a 50-50% split on the help or hinder front. (Anyone want to be interviewed here? Email me: amy at shapingyouth dot org)

In sum, MyVetwork is a digital treasure trove for military households walking through life on a similar trail, to help each other from slipping on the ol’ loose gravel…it’s very smart. Well-designed. And fun to use. (only reason I’m not over there more is I’m wading chin deep in social media ‘tmi’)

You can bet your bippy when I need to find out more about VA hospitals seeking clinical trials or details about TriCare for Life/Medicare layers on behalf of my folks…I’ll be signing onto the system to find someone MY age in the “sandwich generation” who has “been there done that” to lend a hand and cut to the chase.

MyVetwork builders, veteran members, families, and digital enthusiasts? I salute you. —Your site is a classic use of ‘using the power of media for positive change.’

Caring. Connecting. Community. Bravo!

Here’s more from the MyVetwork Outreach team:

Important Facts & Figures From MyVetwork:

  • There are 2,700,000 men and women currently serving in the armed forces. (Source: Produced by the National Center for Veterans Analysis and Statistics)

  • There are approximately 23,442,000 U.S. Veterans – 8% of whom are women. 8,493,700 received VA benefits and services in FY 2008 (Source: Produced by the National Center for Veterans Analysis and Statistics)

  • The number of unemployed Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans now nearly equals the number of service members currently deployed in support of these two wars. Labor Department figures released Friday show the Nation’s unemployment rate has reached 9.8 percent — the highest in 23 years — while the unemployment rate for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans is 11.3 percent and it’s even worse for women: among female Veterans of these conflicts, the unemployment rate is 16%. (Source: Rick Maze, Army Times, US Labor Department)

  • During the 2007–08 academic year, approximately 660,000 Veterans and approximately 215,000 military service members were enrolled in undergraduate education. These students represented 4 percent of all undergraduates. (Source: Radford & Wun, 2009)

  • Most Veterans are married. As of 2000, about three-fourths of Veterans were married, and 90 percent had been married at some point. (Source: U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, 2001)

  • The transition to civilian life after military service can make attending college difficult for undergraduate Veterans. They may be experiencing psychological and/or physical post-war trauma (Source: DiRamio, Ackerman, & Mitchell, 2008; McBain, 2008), readjusting to personal relationships (Source: DiRamio, Ackerman, & Mitchell, 2008), and adapting to a new lifestyle.
  • Military undergraduates are not just adjusting to the transition from military to civilian life; they also are making a transition to college life, one that proves challenging for many students. Both military undergraduates and other nontraditional students can find it difficult to adjust after being out of the classroom for a significant period of time (DiRamio, Ackerman, & Mitchell, 2008), and military undergraduates may encounter additional cultural barriers in adjusting to campus life. For example, they may find that their military experience makes it difficult for them to relate to other students. As an undergraduate Veteran reported, “Most [students] kind of whine over nothing. They don’t really know what it is to have a hard time. They don’t have people screaming at them to get things done at three in the morning. They sit in a sheltered dorm room and do homework. It’s not too hard. You hear people complaining and you’re just like, why are you complaining?” (DiRamio, Ackerman, & Mitchell, 2008).

  • In efforts to pursue their studies, military undergraduates also encounter bureaucratic obstacles at both the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the postsecondary institutions they attend. Military undergraduates have had difficulty receiving timely reimbursement for their education expenses (DiRamio, Ackerman, & Mitchell, 2008; The Winston Group, 2008). As one military serviceman explained, “It is a hassle to get through VA to get them to approve it, to get the college to approve it, and then it goes back to the VA. It goes to like 80 different people before they send you your money. So if your class starts before you get that money, you have to pay out of pocket.” (Source: The Winston Group, 2008).

  • Nearly 33 percent of servicemen and women deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan will experience mental health issues. Approximately 30 percent of Veterans treated in the Veterans Health System experienced depressive symptoms, two to three times the rate of the general population. (Source: NAMI National Alliance for Mental Illness)

A Few Resources From Shaping Youth for Veteran’s Day

Shaping Youth: Shouldn’t Veterans Day Be Only For Veterans?

S.Y.: Teach Your Children Well: Veterans Day & Memorial Day Are Not Mattress Sales

  • Media History Channel: Take A Veteran to School DayKen Burns’ “The War” w/VHP & PBSTop 10 Anti-War Films (About.com)

    Top 50 War Films (IMBD) Schindler’s List #1

    Flags of Our Fathers

    Sites

    VA Kids: K-5, 6-12, Teachers

    VA ‘Lessons of Liberty’

    VA video: Jennifer Love Hewitt: Action Steps/Volunteering

    Veteran’s History Project, Library of Congress

    Celebrating America’s Freedoms: (Customs, Symbols, Icons, etc.)

    Outreach

    Soldier Care Package Ideas

    Treats for Troops

    Milblogging.com (largest index of military blogs)

    The Golden Rules of Care Packages (funny business)

    Operation Gratitude

    Operation USO Care Package

    Kids’ Veteran’s Day Activities, Crafts, Poetry, Word Search/Reading List

    Apples4TheTeacher

    Enchanted Learning/Easy Kids’ Crafts

    Tomb of the Unknown Soldier/Fact Quiz

    Cybersleuth Kids’ Internet Search guide for K-12/Veteran’s Day Sites

  • 404

    Comments

    1. Hiya, had to kick off the comments by this Twitter reply I just got that I need to share…”Veterans to Obama, do not escalate Afghanistan” about a ‘Rethink Afghanistan” movie and petition in the media mix…heavily tweeted by army wifes and veterans from what I’m seeing so far…check it out:

      http://www.stumbleupon.com/s/#2VRFKS/rethinkafghanistan.com

      “Dear President Obama, News reports indicate that you plan to send between 34,000 and 40,000 more troops to Afghanistan.
      We urge you to reconsider this decision.
      Expanding the war in Afghanistan will make Americans less safe, not more so.

      Less than 100 members of Al Qaeda remain in Afghanistan. The Karzai government we once supported is controlled by warlords and is riddled with corruption. Pakistan’s stability will be gravely imperiled by an expansion of the war. Hundreds if not thousands of troops will be killed, along with countless civilians. Anti-American sentiment throughout the Muslim world will be inflamed by civilian bloodshed, facilitating recruitment by terrorist organizations.

      The war will cost billions of dollars when we can least afford it, and will stymie your domestic agenda.

      The cost of sustaining a military force in Afghanistan is $1 million per soldier per year – that’s close to $100 billion dollars annually with the troop increase. With the economy in shambles, the deficits generated by these enormous costs will compromise your domestic legislative agenda both fiscally and politically.

      The United States has no vital interest in Afghanistan. If you choose to further escalate troop levels in Afghanistan, you will be making the biggest mistake of your presidency.
      Please reject General McChrystal’s troop requests and begin the process of exiting U.S. forces from Afghanistan.”

      Clearly, as a nonpartisan, civilian, I’d love to hear from veteran near and far, so comment please…Eager to hear from any and all…And yes, Dad, I’ll call you in a sec too… 😉

    2. Finding a good job can be pretty troublesome. Especially when you have high expectations.

      Here are some tips that helped me land the job of my dreams:

      * You need to have a professional written resume. If you are not an expert, you could consider hiring one.
      * Take into consideration what skills do you have. You may have more choices if you consider additional job titles.
      * Look for jobs in every possible source : internet, newspaper, radio and other media. Ask your friends that have similar jobs if there may be an opening in their company.
      * You need to be proactive about this. Don’t just email them, make sure to call the HR department to have them confirm your resume.

      Finding a job is pretty much a job in itself and it’s all about how well can you market your abilities.

    3. I’ve really enjoyed reading your articles. You obviously know what you are talking about! Your site is so easy to navigate too, I’ve bookmarked it in my favourites 😀

    Speak Your Mind

    *

    CommentLuv badge