Guest Post – Networking and Mentoring for Military Women in the Digital Age

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Guest Post!

Today, we are going to hear from a CDR Schofer of a different variety: the wife.

CDR Wendy Schofer is a Navy Reserve pediatrician. She is the glue keeping the Schofer Family together through my demanding schedule, teens needing regular feeding/watering/supervision at home, and having her own part-time clinical job, nonprofit volunteer work, and regular orders. A personal interest of hers is keeping lines of communication open and mentoring personnel through transitions (of which she has had several).

——

Great to be here. It’s about time the Other CDR Schofer shared the fun.

I would like to address a couple of forums that have popped up online for females in the military. Yes, Facebook pages. There are a number of private or closed pages available to military women on Facebook. There are pros and cons to weigh for any social media pages:

***Before you sign up for any page on Facebook, be mindful of its privacy settings, as well as your own profile’s privacy settings. There is training on this – use that annual training guidance to ensure that you are not spilling personal nor governmental information inadvertently.

1) Pros according to Schofer:

  • Vetting: a number of these private/closed pages have you complete a questionnaire when you request to join, indicating service branch, where stationed, if know someone already in the group. There are also occasional requests from admin to help identify who truly meets the criteria to validly join the group.
  • Relatively safe haven: I have posted (and seen) questions that some might not ask elsewhere. It’s easier to ask when not face-to-face (see cons)
  • Broad audience/subscribers — you can get input from women beyond your immediate chain-of-command
  • If some guidance is questionable, it will often be addressed by someone else/clarified
  • Celebration of military women (we need to do this more)
  • Wealth of topics: dual-mil, pay, retirement, mentoring, protocol, hot topics, family leave policy, transgender policy/transitions, car transport, PCS, pet transport, looking for general mentorship, leadership approaches, uniform guidance, BRS, life after military, transitions to/from Reserves…
  • I love how professional my colleagues are: they are quite measured in their responses and often quote the MILPERSMAN

2) Cons according to Schofer:

  • It’s Facebook, still need to be mindful of OPSEC
  • It’s Facebook: social media can still call folks out online, or you may post something that you regret – also screenshots/forwarding can occur from people WITHIN your group – so nothing is truly private.
  • I am clearly only addressing the females in this audience. No males are allowed on these forums. It’s not meant to be exclusionary, but to support the safe haven noted above (how many men REALLY want to know the nitty-gritty about which bras to wear for pumping while in uniform?).
  • Take everything with a grain of salt. Just because someone has seen it/made it worked, doesn’t mean that it applies in your command.

Pages I have experience with, and others to consider:

There are other pages with broader appeal, such as Spouse Clubs, NOSC (for Reserve personnel) and local/regional unit supports. Examples local to Norfolk would be the The Oakleaf Club of Tidewater, Hampton Roads NOSC, Chesapeake Military Moms and Spouses Meetup Group.

These are not just for women, and tend to cover more family/childcare questions. But they highlight that there are a ton of resources available to families, whether established at a location, PCSing in, needing childcare suggestions or moral support. We are finding more and more moral support electronically – let’s use that for good. It has been immensely helpful in my Reserve transitions.

Thanks for joining me here. And please, keep it safe on social media, including realizing when to just turn it off and join the real world.

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