I have talked about the power of the Internet to help bridge the civil-military divide between those who live on Army bases and the non-military public.
The Army is about to create a “virtual Army installation,” which seems to be a start:
Laura Stultz may have never been in the military herself, but she’s had lots of experience holding down the home front, far from the nearest military installation, when her Soldier deploys.
Now, with her Soldier-husband serving as chief of the Army Reserve, Mrs. Stultz feels a personal responsibility to make things smoother for other Army Reserve spouses who keep the home fires burning during deployments.
One way she hopes to do that is through a concept she’s dubbed “the virtual installation.” The idea, Army Lt. Gen. Jack Stultz explained, is to make the information, services and support offered at big bases available to Families either through the Internet or through local Soldier support centers.
The general acknowledged that all spouses face hardships when their loved ones deploy – regardless of whether they’re active duty, National Guard or Reserve. But unlike active-duty Families who can turn to their local post for help if they need it, Army Reserve Families often live far from an Army post and don’t know how to tap into the services offered, Laura reminded her husband.
Lt. Gen. Stultz sees two ways the virtual installation concept might work. It could be Internet-based, enabling Army Reserve Families to use their computers to get the information, support and services they’d find at an Army post.
Another idea is to set up offices around the country, staffed by volunteers to assist military Families. Lt. Gen. Stultz said he envisions “Soldier support centers” around the country, possibly sharing space with the local American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars or other organization.
In my humble opinion, the Internet option is much more practical.
Connecting reserve families online is a start. The next step is to connect the non-military public to the military.