BBC News has published a story discussing how Facebook, Twitter and other SM techniques can be used to support veterans after they return from service overseas. I can see great strength and great potential in this approach. Military units survive unbelievably trying circumstances largely through unit cohesiveness and mutual support, and I can only imagine how deeply the loss of this support is felt after units return from overseas and individuals begin to go their separate ways.
These SM links will allow veterans to keep in touch with each other and with others who have shared their experiences, and will allow veterans’ advocates and caregivers the ability to monitor for concerns or problems that might need attention. This approach can be of tremendous benefit if it allows veterans to work out service-related emotional issues that might otherwise develop into symptoms of depression or PTSD. It could also allow caregivers to look for veterans who appear to be struggling to re-acclimate to civilian life and connect them with necessary resources to ease the transition.
These SM approaches prove the benefit of social networks in both promoting health and wellness, and also in impacting and changing individual behavior. Considering the well-documented mental health challenges that veterans face and the large number of veterans of our current conflicts overseas, SM stands to fill a critical and increasing need.