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The Army organization tasked with transitioning soldiers into civilian life after completing their service is seeing returns on social media.
While there is no research into why the Soldier for Life program is seeing such a boom in internet engagement, the ubiquity of social media paired with a generation of soldiers more familiar with the internet account for some of the increase.
Soldier for Life Director Col. Sam Whitehurst told Federal News Radio during a March 15 interview that making soldiers aware of the programs available to them is one of the biggest challenges of the program.
The social media interest is one way Soldier for Life is trying to keep soldiers informed.
“We are very active on different social media platforms. We believe that is a great way to connect not only to our soldiers, but to our veterans as well. We are on Facebook, we’re on Instagram, we’re on Twitter, we’re on RallyPoint and we’re on LinkedIn. I would encourage anyone who wants to be connected with us all you have to do is search Soldier for Life,” Whitehurst said.
The investment in social media has paid off. The number of people following the Soldier for Life LinkedIn page has grown by 42 percent since the beginning of 2018. The page grew by 258 percent since the organization started tracking social media analytics in April 2017. The Instagram page has also seen 44 percent growth since the beginning of the year.
The Soldier for Life Facebook page now has more than 23,000 likes and the Twitter account has more than 6,500 followers.
Soldier for Life is keeping its more traditional ties close as well. The organization depends on working with industry to provide jobs and training for soldiers leaving the force.
“What we have discovered is our corporate partners want to hire veterans. They recognize the qualities they look for in their employees, qualities like leadership, commitment, loyalty, the ability to work as part of a team, those qualities that our transitioning service members have developed as part of their Army experience, those are the people they want to hire,” Whitehurst said.
Whitehurst said the organization is trying to look at more systemic ways to link veterans to their communities.
“We do that by working very closely with our partners in the [Veterans Affairs Department] as well as the Department of Labor,” Whitehurst said.
Whitehurst also said the goal of Solider for Life is to transition the whole service member’s family.
“When we talk employment and education opportunities for our soldiers, we’re not just talking about the individual soldier. We’re talking about their family, we’re talking about military spouses and there are some organizations out there like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce that are doing some great work and putting some great thought into how we can do better about supporting our military spouses with employment opportunities,” Whitehurst said.