I remember writing letters to my son while he was serving overseas in 2010 – 2011. I never knew how long it would take for delivery and just assumed it was several weeks at least. I also remember being in the dark about what was happening. Now there are better ways for service members to stay connected to their families and each other.
Since May is Military Appreciation Month and includes the sacred holiday of Memorial Day, it’s a perfect time to share communication and social media options for our heroes. In addition to vital communications and updates, some of the sites can now better help our heroes find particular people or job opportunities. Most of them allow the member to create a personal profile similar to LinkedIn or Facebook.
Career: LinkedIn and RallyPoint
Rally Point is for active duty, veterans, and civilian supporters. As of today, they boast 1.2 M members including 535K service members, 544K veterans, and 127 K supporters. The profile in Rally Point is pretty comprehensive and somewhat similar to LinkedIn, but without some of the visual options. Rally Point has sections for career, education, and groups. From a career perspective, the benefit of Rally Point is that it is strictly military focused including lots of veteran-friendly employers and job opportunities.
With over 500 million professionals as members, LinkedIn is still the best place to find global career and professional opportunities for most users. The sheer size of LinkedIn is attractive; users can find hiring managers, recruiters, and job opportunities. There are many military-focused LinkedIn Groups, including a veterans mentoring group. LinkedIn also provides a one-year free subscription of “Premium Career” for veterans.
I recommend that veterans leverage both LinkedIn and RallyPoint while actively pursuing career opportunities. LinkedIn should be your primary resource, but veteran-oriented opportunities may be easier to identify in RallyPoint.
Connect with Family and Friends: Sandboxx, VetFriends, and Facebook
Sandboxx is built for active duty, veterans, and military families. This site also has a personal profile and the ability to connect with others. Most interestingly, letters can be sent via Sandboxx. Similar to LinkedIn, Sandboxx asks the user if they wish to upload contacts. Active Duty, Reserve/Guard, and Veterans can “Invite Kin” to connect. They can also easily connect with other service members. The home feed is fairly active with military-oriented motivational quotes and images and real user engagement.
The VetFriends site includes the ability to access an extensive research database. Users can access US Public record and US Veteran People finder with the VetFriends premium subscription. In the free site, veterans can find military photos, jokes, events, and lingo as well as many other resource pages. Set up a profile and include the military units where you served. From a pure searching perspective, this site is also worth trying. VetFriends doesn’t appear to have a mobile app yet, so go to your desktop for access to the site.
Never underestimate Facebook. The Facebook private groups are ideal for families of deployed families to stay up to date with the troop’s activity. The sheer size of Facebook makes it perfect for military families to stay connected with each other and their loved ones. However, military families have to be careful what they post on Facebook, such as addresses, locations, and movements of troops due to confidentiality. Even if the group is considered closed or private, I still suggest users exercise caution about posts and comments.
It’s wonderful to see the new sites and capabilities focused on our heroes and their families. I hope that these sites will help our veterans to readjust, connect, and find optimal career opportunities as they transition away from the military as well as help the current active duty forces to feel more connected as they serve.
What other sites do you use to stay connected with your military friends and family?