Veterans Make Use of Social Media to Reconnect
I’ve spent some time this year looking at alternative forms of treatment for Veterans who are struggling with PTSD. Through my work with Vets over the past few years I’ve encountered a few trends when it comes to those individuals who are the most at risk. The main trend I see is isolation from other Veterans who have similar experiences. Whenever I am talking to a Veteran who is filing for PTSD I ask several questions. The last question I always ask is: “How often do you interact with other Veterans?” The answer is often never.
I of all people know how easy it is to lose touch with people. But, with Veterans, especially those who served in combat, there is a brotherhood that is strong and everlasting. As a civilian I often find myself envious of my friends who are Veterans because of this brotherhood. However, when you join the military you are meeting people from all across the country. You’re not likely to enter with a bunch of people from your same neighborhood. Once you’re discharged, you’re not likely to be geographically close to those who served with you.
This brings us to social media. We live in a time now in which we are more connected to those we know, and those we wish we knew. I am personally on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, SnapChat, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and I have an awesome YouTube channel. Not to mention one of the top VA Disability blogs in the country. So, we could easily say that Veterans could connect with each other on entities like Facebook, but… Facebook is toxic. I’m being blunt, but in its current form, Facebook is really not helpful for anyone wanting to get help with anything. I won’t go on and on about this, but I think it would be a little difficult for any Veteran to discuss their issues with PTSD in the same arena in which people are posting pictures of their dogs and recipes of food no one intends to make.
Not all social media is bad. Late last year I looked at how Veterans were using the service Whisper to discuss PTSD and the positive outcomes it had. One individual even sent me a message that my blog entry helped him realize he had PTSD. So social media can be used for good. But what we really need is a social media outlet geared for Veterans, by Veterans. Actually, we don’t need that. The reason; one already exists. If you’ve read this blog before then you know that I am a big supporter of a group called the Steel City Vets. Ben Keen, one of their founders, was interviewed by People magazine recently and mentioned a social media outlet called RallyPoint. He informed me that it is a social media site for Veterans and he uses it quite often. I trust Ben as he is a very motivated individual and often provides me great insight for my blogs from a Veteran’s perspective. I decided to see what I could find out.
Honestly, I didn’t expect to get past the metaphoric front door. After all, I haven’t served in the military, and this site is intended for those who are Veterans or currently serving in the Armed Forces. I was surprised though. They actually allow civilian supporters to sign up for the site too. I think it’s safe to say that I fit into that category. In just a few clicks I was able to sign up as a civilian. My first thought when accessing the main part of the site is that this is a lot like LinkedIn. It turns out that my initial thoughts were warranted because my research found that the site is intended to be like LinkedIn for Veterans. So, keen observational skills on my point. Speaking as someone who has studied social media for a long time, I actually found it to be like LinkedIn, but much more interesting. I quickly found a lot of great topics about military issues, current events, and general topics. As we were approaching Memorial Day there were a lot of great topics about remembering fellow servicemen who had been killed in action as well as discussions about the film “American Sniper,” and a lot of other personal posts.
My only annoyance with RallyPoint was that some members were trying to turn it into a Facebook clone. I saw a few instances of the things that annoy me on Facebook showing up on this site too. Examples of this are posts by individuals just trying to troll others, and other random nonsense. But you will have that with any social media site.
Overall though, this is something I’d recommend for the Veterans I speak to on a regular basis. You can search for people by branch, location, and by more specific criteria too. It’s a great way to reconnect with those you served with as well as making new friends from within the military community. Plus it appears to be a great way to make connections in the business world and to find a new job for Vets.
In my mind, the greatest aspect of a site like this is that it can help you find people you served with and possibly open a dialogue about PTSD. Most of us feel better when we know we aren’t going through a tough time alone.
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