Meaningful Connections for the Millennial Military

July 6, 2011 | By kobylangley
Sometimes trends are more than trends – they are a fact of life. According to the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project, over 83% of all Americans own a web enabled phone.  Just 15 years ago, less than 3 percent of the world’s population had a cell phone and less than 1 percent was online.   Times aren’t’ changing – they already have, and federal government needs to keep up.   The Office of Wounded Warrior Care and Transition policy is making formative efforts to connect to our newest generation of wounded warriors and their families to the resources they need in the way they receive their information on a daily basis.  A recent 2009 communications study for the Marine Corps by David King of the Harvard Kennedy School highlighted the issue for service members – military families seeking information related to care and benefits go to major web-based social marketplaces and small discrete community based resourcesthat they can identify with, like military unit blogs and new media platforms.   We have invested in transforming the way we communicate by placing a premium on social media tools like Facebook, Twitter and Blogging.  According to the Pew Research Center, over 13% of online adults use the status update service Twitter, which represents a significant increase from the 8% of online adults who identified themselves as Twitter users in November 2010.  Our Facebook followership on our main sites like DoDTAP, The National Resource Directory and Warriorcare has grown over 200% in that time.  We have also have changed our online presence to be more accommodating to the mobile users after conducting a focus group study with the community we serve.  The comments or our heroes on how they prefer communications were telling, so earlier this year the Departments of Veterans Affairs, Labor, and Defense created a mobile version of the National Resource Directory.  After we launched the mobile version of the site, our average monthly visitors rose from 40,000 a month, to over 100,000 a month in less than three months.  Now more Service members, wounded warriors, Veterans, their families and caregivers have easier access to over 13,000 resources in the way they want.   If you want one to embed a zero maintenance resource directory for Veterans and Service members into your own website, it is as easy as “cut-and-paste” and you can follow the instructions here. We did not stop with just delivery platforms and improved usability.  We are now reaching into changing the way we look at how we deliver our services to the transitioning service member, wounded warriors, and their families.  Last week, we launched a Mobile Ap of a 200 page handbook via a mobile application that recovering service members can now download at their local iTunes store -- we hope to have other versions available soon.  Traditionally, we printed and shipped tens of thousands of these books every year.  While we will still ship some of these to those who prefer a 200 page manual, this application provides an alternate way for users to navigate their benefits in the palm of their hand, or by downloading a PDF version at www.TurboTAP.org. A recent study by Pew tells us that E-reader ownership across America  doubled in the past six months.  For the past six months, for the first time in the history of the Transition Assistance Program (TAP), we have been hosting online webinars to help transitioning service members get detailed and interactive assistance in key areas of the TAP program, such as building better resumes, acing the interview, and how to land a federal job.   The TAP operations director even helped a transitioning service member land a job via Facebook. Who needs LinkedIN?  During these tough economic times, with historic unemployment for Veterans, you may be asking how can you replicate that online success for yourself or a loved one who has served?  Be sure to sign up for Social Networking and the Job Search – July 28, 7:00 pm Eastern.    The Millennial’s aren’t calling for change, they are tweeting for it, and we hope to continue to answer their call.