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Sir, Let Me Tell Our Story
Update: I forgot to add in links, but they are now here. Sorry about that!
The Military Times family of publications have devoted the lead story in the â€œOff Dutyâ€ section to CJâ€™s continuing battle with Huntsville City Schools, the PTA, and the Army this week (note, the article is not live online as of this update). CJâ€™s story is an amazing one and well worth the read if youâ€™re able to pick up a copy of the Times publication in your area. If youâ€™re not able to, our very good friend Troy has posted the article and all pictures to Bouhammer. Go read, then come back.
Done already? You speed reader, you. Are you sure you didnâ€™t skim? GO BACK AND FINISH READING!
Done this time? Okay, good. There isnâ€™t much new information in the article itself, so make sure you read what Troy had to add at the end. I wonâ€™t rehash it all here.
It is amazing how something that should have been as small as a uniform discussion between the school staff and parents exploded into something this big. Egos were bruised, vengeance was sought against a decorated soldier, and a career could very well lie in shambles because several people, some veterans themselves, couldnâ€™t put on their big girl pants and say something as simple as, â€œSorry. We were wrong.â€
This story and the hundreds of other stories about service members winding up in hot water over articles theyâ€™ve written for blogs and social media should be striking deep at the heart of all IT professionals in every branch. Weâ€™ve grown leaps and bounds from the Armyâ€™s asinine policy of every article cleared before posting, but every single branch has a long ways to go.
Every G-6 at every command level should be taking a hard look at the orders governing blogging and social media. These are tools that have been proven to keep loved ones informed, get out the heart warming stories, and increase recruiting/retention numbers. Service members shouldnâ€™t be worried about writing their story and then facing backlash from their command as long as they are smart about it. Youâ€™ll find that 99% of us are very smart about it.
I have a theory on why command decisions regarding blogging have been so horrible up to this point or lacking entirely. They just donâ€™t get it. CJ stated it very well when he spoke to the Army Times last time. The generals get it, the troops get it, but the problem lies with the field grade officers where a vast majority of the policy and orders originate. Blogging and social media as a whole is the newest piece of â€œgearâ€ that is going to take a lot of time and coaching from the duty experts (the troops in this case) for them to understand, begin to use, and then rely upon.
While the rest of the military waits for the field grade officers to catch up, weâ€™re going to see more and more cases like this. I donâ€™t say that meaning to insult our military leadership, but I am calling a spade a spade in this case. There are several exceptions to this and you canâ€™t visit Taco Bell and Maj Pain to see that in action. Maybe what it is really going to take is getting the awesome milbloggers like Taco and Maj Pain out there amongst their peers to eliminate this faÃ§ade of danger that blogging has around it. We can tell that the encouragement and blessing of very senior leadership hasnâ€™t been able to do that as of now.
Another idea would be to invite some of the O-5 and O-6 commanders from all branches to the MilBlog Conference in April in DC. Let them meet great bloggers like the Greyhawks, Blackfive, JP Borda, CJ, and Troy to assure them at we are not the enemy; their own ignorance and fear is! We are here as another tool for them to use in their mission.
If there is something that I could tell each and every commander, it would be very simple. â€œSir, let me tell our story.â€