Social media has, in many ways, been a great blessing to the military. What were once great distances between deployed troops and the loved ones they leave behind can now seem a little smaller. Thanks to free tools such as Facebook, Skype and instant messaging, to name just a few, global communication is much less complicated.
Social media is also helping military members once they return home. A number of sites have launched in recent years geared toward helping connect those who've served with things such as employment resources, mental health services and fellow veterans. Here are four to check out.
The newest social network for military members, RallyPoint bills itself as the professional network for current and transitioning troops. The site was launched (in private beta) on Aug. 1, and opened to the public Nov. 12. Like LinkedIn for the military, this site allows users to grow their professional military network, find career opportunities within the military and/or search for civilian jobs. The site is only available to active-duty and retired military personnel, as well as professionals in the Department of Defense.
Best for: Service members looking for guidance on how to work their way through the ranks of the military or other related fields.
"Service has its privileges." That's the tagline for this job search site, which works more like Monster or Indeed. The online job board connects veterans seeking employment with companies eager to hire them. Its job postings are searchable by location, company name, field or job title. The site also provides other employment services to veterans and their families.
To sign up, you must provide name and address information to verify your connection to the military. Currently, there are more than 337,000 registered members.
Best for: Veterans or military family members actively seeking employment.
A Facebook for the military world. This site helps you connect with old friends from your time in the service, and includes members of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines. Its directory, which boasts more than 1.2 million members, can be browsed by military unit or date, and you can sign up to receive notifications whenever anyone from your unit joins. The site is a great place to share old stories, jokes and photos, and also offers some job search features.
Best for: Service members looking to reconnect with old military friends.
Similar to VetFriends, this site helps bring veterans together and provides them with a place to record their military memories. The site has pages for all six branches of the Armed Forces. While it recognizes its role as a social media site, it also brands itself as "a living, breathing national archive" where they hope to honor the memory of as many veterans as possible
Best for: Service members looking to preserve their military story.