Blake Hall is a man on a mission: to help U.S. military personnel use "Web 2.0" Internet technologies to help one another and themselves. Hall's no stranger to demanding missions. A decorated former U.S. Army Captain and Airborne Ranger who led a scout platoon in Iraq, he relates how the first time he ever led a combat mission, his battalion commander laid his hand on his shoulder and said ominously, "Hall, don't screw it up." And based on the overwhelmingly positive, initial response to his and his co-founders' new, veteran-owned web venture, TroopSwap.com, an online community and marketplace for active duty U.S. military, reservists, veterans and their families, that battalion commander would be more than proud.
Resources for Troops
Deployed forces can increase their knowledge of the language and culture in Iraq and Afghanistan with the click of a button, according to Vcom3D, the developer of the iPhone app Vcommunicator Mobile Language & Culture (LC). Select groups of soldiers have already started utilizing the app, which aims to help users communicate effectively during operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom, and it has already been used by more than 700 members of the U.S. military. The app has also been deployed with forces helping relief efforts in Sudan.
Finding the right sales and discounts becomes a priority when budgets are tight. Military Shoppers features discounts on groceries, furniture and jewelry. It also includes tools to locate sales at base commissaries, online coupons and a list of base yard sales. Registration is necessary to access many of the site's features. Additional links lead to dieting and fitness sites, charities and online contests. Personnel mustering out of the service may wish to check out the site's JobsForVets.com link, which provides a national list of job openings geared for veterans.
Families of deployed members of the National Guard, Reserve and active duty service members on independent duty and their families are eligible for free family memberships at participating YMCAs in their local communities. The free memberships for Guard and Reserve families are available when service members are deployed for at least six months, and the deploying family member is eligible for a three-month pre- and post-deployment membership. Active duty families assigned to independent duty stations and not receiving support from the service component also are eligible at participating locations. While memberships are free, some classes may have costs associated with them, which military members must pay.