When Jill called me last week to discuss her idea for a blog post about the notification process regarding military-related incidents, old memories were yanked into present day as she told me story of her friend, Theresa Jones. I remember reading about the incident that claimed the life of her Navy Pilot husband and the father of her two children but as is the case with many such stories, I offered a silent prayer to a fellow military wife experiencing our worst nightmare and then went about my day. Little did I know, she first learned of her husband’s fate via Facebook due to the instantaneous nature of social media and the seemingly delayed response from Casualty Assistance. Theresa Jones’ nightmare was literally playing out in her Newsfeed as she nursed her two-month-old child.
Before an Army deployment, the families are encouraged to attend a pre-deployment briefing where we are informed of the formal notification process in case our soldier is wounded or killed in battle. We are told that Casualty Assistance will contact the families before anything is released to the press. During a deployment, the mantra ‘no news is good news‘ is repeated constantly in regards to our loved ones fighting overseas. During the height of the wars, not a day would go by without an American soldier being killed in either Iraq or Afghanistan. As the wife of a deployed soldier, I learned to compartmentalize the daily reports of lives lost, almost becoming numb to the bombardment of DoD Press Releases and breaking news bulletins. As long as my phone didn’t ring or I didn’t hear a knock on the door – I knew he was safe. But in reality, it was a false sense of security. Nowadays, no news doesn’t necessarily mean good news, as was the case with Theresa Jones.
In her blog post, Racing Facebook: A New Challenge for the Military Community, Jill calls for sensitivity when clicking the share button on a breaking news story regarding a military incident. Social media is a wonderful tool that connects our world more than ever, but the rapid fire nature can lead to false reports, misinformation, and leaked knowledge. More specifically, there is a need for official military organizations (FRGs, OSCs, ESCs, etc…) to practice restraint when publishing such breaking news reports on their official social media outlets. One of my favorite aspects of the military lifestyle is the sense of community. We look out for each other. Let’s not forget to do just that when using our social media accounts to share military incident-related news.