Army's Second Life site offers support to soldiers, families

When Army Maj. Gen. Reuben Jones took 12 teens from Army families to meet Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Peter Chiarelli, the group had two main questions.

They asked, “How do we adjust when Mom or Dad come home, and what online resources can help us with that adjustment,” Jones, commander of the Family, Morale, Welfare and Recreation Command, told Nextgov.

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Second Life demonstrates mingling of real and virtual worlds

In an effort to strengthen the Comprehensive Soldier Fitness program and capitalize on OneSource’s website traffic of 1 billion visits since 2004, the Army is creating a “virtual resiliency” campus on an Army island in Second Life, the virtual-reality environment, for soldiers and their families, Nextgov reports. Visitors will be able to access the new online campus in April via OneSource.

The goal of the new virtual world is to buoy troop and family support both emotionally and physically.

As soldiers and their families enter the online world, an avatar will be available to lead fitness classes. Users can also access emotional, social, family and spiritual sections. These areas can “help troops develop coping mechanisms and deal with post-deployment readjustment,” Jones said.

Other available resources include Army chaplain-recruited volunteers, access to counselors and fitness tips.

The Defense Department is leveraging the accessibility of the Internet to reach more soldiers in need. In January, it launched a Second Life region where soldiers can anonymously learn about the symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and where to get help.

About the Author

Alysha Sideman is the online content producer for Washington Technology.

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