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Military town-hall meeting on Facebook

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POSTED: April 25, 2011 9:19 a.m.

Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield will host its first Facebook town-hall meeting at 6:30 p.m. May 4 for soldiers, family members, Army civilians, retirees, veterans and anyone else with questions about the installation.
The hour-long online forum is a chance for the community to offer input on installation leadership, services and other topics.
“Taking our town-hall meeting online with the power of social media just makes sense,” Fort Stewart-Hunter garrison commander Col. Kevin Milton said. “Our Facebook page is liked by many of the spouses and soldiers who call Stewart-Hunter and the surrounding communities home. Using our Facebook page takes the conversation to a new level and brings the discussion into their homes.”
With a solid fan base, getting soldiers and families to participate in the Facebook town hall should prove less challenging than with the traditional in-person town-hall meetings, post officials said. Using Web-based resources makes interacting easier and more accessible for all participants, Milton said.
“Facebook is an excellent way to communicate with our soldiers and families, providing real-time two-way communication,” he said. “Also, by using the Web-based power of social media, more people can participate in the discussion and ask questions, possibly about topics that haven’t been brought up in past in-person town halls.”
Representatives from Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation, Army Community Services, Housing, the Religious Service Office, Installation Legal Office, Directorate of Emergency Services, AAFES and the commissary will be online taking and answering questions during the Facebook town hall.
“Essentially, what we’re doing is duplicating the in-person town halls we had at Club Stewart but bringing the discussion directly to our soldiers and families through social media,” Milton said. “My directors and I will be gathered around computers in a central location, watching the Facebook town-hall conversation and responding to your questions.”
The leadership of those offices also will be creating official government profiles on Facebook to interact directly with town-hall participants online.
“Having my directors create Facebook profiles for themselves is another way to reach out to and interact with our soldiers and their families,” Milton said.
Topics that the installation leadership can address include housing, medical care, life on Stewart-Hunter, youth programs, moving to Stewart-Hunter and schools.
Once the town hall is under way, patience is requested as the staff works to respond to questions. Courtesy and decorum during the town hall also are requested; derisive questions or comments strongly are discouraged. The town-hall posts will be monitored and offensive posts removed, but the anticipated flow of questions and answers will make that a challenge, according to Fort Stewart public affairs.
“I’d ask that all participants be open and polite during the town hall, allowing everyone a chance to ask a question or voice a concern,” Milton said.
To participate in the Facebook town hall, go to www.facebook.com/pages/3rd-Infantry-Division/78701778561.

 

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