MyMilitaryLife App Spotlight: Helping Military Spouses Navigate Military Life
Guest article written by Molly Blake, Managing Editor of Blue Star Families, a non profit organization that supports, connects, and empowers military families.
I recently walked out of a post deployment brief with stacks of flyers and brochures from government support organizations tucked in my purse. My husband was due home from a six-month deployment and my fellow military spouses and I were bombarded with information on reintegration. Less than an hour later, I dug out the colorful handouts and gave them to my daughter who was desperate for collage project fodder. Needless to say, the brochures were never read.
So when The National Military Family Association unveiled the MyMilitaryLife app on both iPhone and Android (October 11, 2012) military spouses everywhere, myself included, breathed a sigh of relief and downloaded the first ever app just for us.
“When you are in the deployment phase for example,” said Michelle Joyner, National Military Family Association’s Communications Director, “you want that information at your fingertips.”
Here’s the problem: Sites like the Department of Defense have scads of information - but the information is buried and the site is wildly inefficient. Meanwhile the smaller community organizations can’t seem to figure out how to get their well-intentioned assistance into the hands of military spouses.
“Mobile technology has given us the opportunity to transform the way we communicate, thus sharing resources and programs in a dynamic way,” said Joyner. Military spouses are tech savvy and “highly connected,” said Joyner. A quick glance at twitter and you’ll find thousands of #milspouse references.
“It’s wise to embrace technology for the military family community,” added Joyner.
The app was launched at the National Military Family Association's Leadership luncheon. Eric Schmidt, former CEO and current Executive Chairman of Google, joined defense leaders and key military community leaders like Dr. Vivian Greentree, Blue Star Families research director, to discuss technology’s role in military family communication as well as wartime operations and national security.
“We know from our own lifestyle surveys as well as other research, that the more connected military families feel – to each other, to their commands, and to their communities – the more successful outcomes they have,” said Greentree.
MyMilitaryLife users first create an account based on their affiliated service branch and then choose one of three Life Paths: Spouse Education, Deployment, or Separation/Retirement. Depending on the life path, the app then prompts the user to answer a few simple questions that further customize the experience.
Using the app is like having a Tricare Insurance guy, Family Readiness Officer, and a Veteran’s Affairs rep attend unit spouse briefings to answer all those pesky and perennial questions that plague even a veteran milspouse like myself.
For instance, the “Deployment” pathway includes questions about what to do if a deployment is extended and how to support children throughout the separation. Tap the question – “What Should I Expect When My Spouse Comes Home?” for example – and the app generates a mini checklist of things to consider and then to a relevant article on reunions. There’s also a saved list for favorite articles and a tool to share the information via twitter, Facebook, or email. The app also syncs up with an online portal MyMilitaryLife.org.
It’s clean and streamlined – exactly what the National Military Family Association envisioned when Clearly Innovative, the app’s creator, chose Appcelerator Titanium as its platform of choice.
“Appcelerator’s platform is the way to go when creating apps for multiple devices,” said Aaron Saunders, Clearly Innovative’s founder. “We’re looking forward to adding new features,” including a bevy of new pathways that will eventually total 11. Moving, raising children, and spouse employment are slated to be introduced by the end of the year.
MyMilitaryLife is a free app available on the National Military Family Association website, iTunes, and Google Marketplace customizable by branch, rank and other personal factors.
MyMilitaryLife is still in its infancy, but Saunders added. “Now we can build upon NMFA’s vision.”
Molly Blake is the Managing Editor for Blue Star Families, a non profit organization that supports, connects, and empowers military families. Molly brings an extensive journalism background to BSF and has written for The New York Times AtWar Blog, The Huffington Post, Military Spouse Magazine and other publications. She and her husband, LtCol Peter Blake, are stationed in Yuma, Ariz. with their two children. email@example.com