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DoD’s “This Is Your Military” Program Aims to Bridge Civilian-Military Divide

know your mil

By Debbie Gregory.

The Defense Department program called “This Is Your Military” is trying to bridge the military-civilian gap. The initiative is using the hashtag #KnowYourMil.

The program highlights the work of servicemembers, dispel myths about military service, and increase awareness among the American people.

Amber Smith, the deputy assistant to the secretary of defense for outreach, said the purpose of the program is to fix common misconceptions that those who have not served have regarding those who have.

“Some of the trends we found are a majority of young adults think that if you serve in the military, upon leaving the military you are going to have a psychological or an emotional issue or a physical injury,” said Smith.

Internal data indicates the civilian-military divide is expanding, Smith said. “That ultimately is a threat to the viability and the sustainability of the all-volunteer force, which in the long term has some national security risks.”

Smith added that in the mid-1990s, 40 percent of young adults had a direct connection to a veteran in their family. That number has dropped to 15 percent today.

“We really want to articulate a message of what the military is doing, tell that military story to a nonmilitary audience, and really create some interest for people who don’t necessarily care,” she added.

Outreach efforts will include coverage of sporting events and military engagements, as well as videos, photos, graphics and other products, Smith said.

The initiative will conduct outreach on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Each month, the initiative will highlight an aspect of military life such as military jobs and benefits, entrepreneurism and innovation, global missions and family life.

“I think the end goal on both sides is to feel like America is connected to the military and the military is connected to the Americans and that there is support on both side,” Smith said.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Equifax Credit Agency Hack Could Hit Servicemembers Especially Hard

ID theft

By Debbie Gregory.

On September 7th,  Equifax Credit Agency has revealed that a “cybersecurity incident” has potentially exposed the personal information of 143 million Americans

Equifax, one of the nation’s big three credit reporting agencies, experienced an online security breach. While a large number of American civilians could potentially be adversely impacted, active-duty service members are twice as likely to have their identities stolen.

“Stealing sensitive information about members of the military, particularly those deployed from their normal duty station, doesn’t just raise national security concerns,” said Consumer Federation of America senior fellow Rohit Chopra. “ It can also create financial nightmares for servicemembers and their families.”

What we know so far is:

  • Criminals exploited a U.S.-based website application vulnerability to gain access to certain files
  • Unauthorized access occurred from mid-May through July 2017
  • Information accessed primarily includes names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and, in some instances, driver’s license numbers
  • Credit card numbers for approximately 209,000 U.S. consumers and certain dispute documents for approximately 182,000 U.S. consumers were accessed

“Since active-duty service members frequently move due to Permanent Change of Station orders, this can make it even harder to quickly learn if they’ve had their identities stolen,” Chopra wrote.

All three major consumer credit reporting agencies,  Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion, each have a web page where service members can request an Active Duty Alert on their credit report. This will last for one year and is renewable.

Another step we all can take is a credit freeze. This allows you to seal your credit reports and use a personal identification number (PIN) that only you know and can use to temporarily “thaw” your credit when legitimate applications for credit and services need to be processed.

The added layer of security means that thieves can’t establish new credit in your name even if they are able to obtain your personal information.

Freezing your credit files has no impact whatsoever on your existing lines of credit, such as credit cards. You can continue to use them as you regularly would even when your credit is frozen.

The cost typically ranges from about $3 to $10 per person per bureau to freeze a credit report, although some states don’t charge a fee. On September 9th, Equifax tweeted that it will waive the fee for freezes for 30 days.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

DoD Building Healthy Military Communities Program

building healthy

By Debbie Gregory.

Over the years, there have been various programs in place to promote healthy lifestyles among service members and their families. The Defense Department has launched the Building Healthy Military Communities pilot program to better understand the unique challenges faced by geographically dispersed servicemembers and their families that may impact their readiness, resiliency, and well-being.

The pilot program aims to address gaps between on-the-ground resources and geographically dispersed service members and their families.

U.S. Public Health Service Capt. Kimberly Elenberg, director of Operation Live Well, said that now more than ever, servicemembers are living off installations, which presents unique needs and challenges for the members and their families. The program aims to better connect service members to the DoD and local resources that already exist.

The pilot program aligns with the Joint Chiefs of Staff’s Total Force Fitness initiative, a holistic framework for maintaining readiness and well-being.

The framework includes the domains that work together to optimize human performance and create a connection between mind, body, and spirit. They include health (physical, mental, spiritual, and social well-being), resilience and human performance optimization.

The Building Healthy Military Communities pilot program is currently being conducted in seven states — Florida, Indiana, Oklahoma, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi and New Mexico, but could eventually expand to other states.

Selection criteria included: representation of multiple services across the state; demographic diversity within the states; existence of the National Guard Bureau’s Joining Community Forces programs and current initiatives.

The first phase of the pilot program began last year with the hiring of state coordinators in the participating states. The next phases will concentrate on communicating the resources to service members and their families and the utilization of mobile health technologies.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.