U.S. Agency Expands Facebook Presence For Veterans

U.S. armed service members returning from active duty can stay connected to local government health services on Facebook, thanks to a new social media strategy deployed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

The federal agency launched 152 individual Facebook pages for each hospital in the VA system.

With more service members returning from active duty than ever before, the VA says it needs to have a presence where soldiers are congregating — and that means making more resources available on social media channels, including Facebook.

In a press release announcing the Facebook strategy, the VA says it has over 345,000 combined Facebook fans.

The department’s main Facebook page has over 154,000 fans and its medical centers have a combined subscribership of over 69,000.

Brandon Friedman, VA’s director of online communications and a veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, said the following in a prepared statement:

Veterans of all eras are depending on us to get the right information to the right person at the right time. With more troops returning home, we also have a responsibility to connect with the thousands of service members who have been — and will be — entering our system. They’re using social media, so that’s where we need to be. Facebook helps us do that.

While the VA says its staff can’t divulge specific health concerns of individual veterans on Facebook, the sites are monitored closely each day and information is provided to veterans whenever possible.

The agency gave one example of how Facebook has made a difference. The VA’s Crisis Line counselors have successfully intervened on the social media platform in cases where veterans have suggested suicidal thoughts or presented with other emotional crises.

The VA announcement comes on the heels of Facebook’s own recent initiatives for veterans, including the launch of a social media guide for military families earlier this week.

Don Faul, Facebook’s vice president of online operations and a former U.S. Marine, added, “We want to do all we can to support veterans, so we’re pleased to see the Department of Veterans Affairs using Facebook connect with veterans in an authentic and engaging way.”

What do you think of the VA’s strategy to connect soldiers to local health services on Facebook?

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