By Lance Cpl. Matthew J. Manning, Marine Corps Bases Japan
CAMP FOSTER, OKINAWA, Japan — III Marine Expeditionary Force and Marine Corps Bases Japan are among the first to launch unit pages on eMarine, a subscription-based website to provide Marines, family members and commands a safer way to share information as of Sept. 1, 2011.
In the past few years, social media has become an ever-growing form of communication between service members and families. The recently launched eMarine website, part of the commandant of the Marine Corps-driven initiative to improve organizational communication, is the Corps’ safer, more secure, single point for dissemination of information.
“eMarine originated as a Marine Corps Forces Pacific (MARFORPAC) organizational communications tool for the unit personal family readiness program,” said Denise Loftesnes, the family readiness officer (FRO) for III Marine Expeditionary Force. “Organizational communication is vital in this program to make sure the family readiness officers are getting all of the information they need to their Marines, sailors and family members.”
The website, located at www.emarine.org, is a superb tool family members can use to keep in touch with what is going on with their military family members, whether they are deployed or not, according to Lisa Gleason, the information-technology specialist for MARFORPAC.
“Social media sites are a great way for Marines and family members to communicate,” said Gleason. “Sites like Facebook should not have family-readiness information. Instead, eMarine will have it because it is a more secure site.”
In addition to family-readiness information specific to individual units, the website provides links to the latest news affecting families and tools to help Marines. Unit FROs can upload calendars displaying events tailored to one’s preference, maps of the area and information about how to get involved in the community. It also includes links to other websites such as Military OneSource, Military Homefront, Marine Corps Family Team Building, Marine Corps Community Service’s Single Marine Program and other websites designed to serve Marines and family members.
The site includes information about commissaries, job hunting, base information, chaplains and other information for those transitioning to new duty stations. The site’s unit pages, restricted to unit members, will include additional information about the unit.
The ability to share information more securely among units, Marines and family members is a key reason this site will be effective for the Marine Corps, according to Gleason.
“I really like how access to the site is controlled,” said Maj. Koichi Takagi, the executive officer for Marine Wing Communications Squadron 18, Marine Air Control Group 18, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, III MEF. “The fact that the Marine Corps decides who can and cannot view information regarding units will make this a very useful tool in sharing information that will help in both unit and family readiness.”
Though certain portions of the website are restricted to those who have membership, the home page and links are available for public use. Membership log-in identification is only needed when viewing information specific to a unit.
“Access to a unit’s information will be limited to those associated with the unit,” said Gleason. “Service members in the unit and their family members will be able to sign up to see the unit’s information.”
The eMarine site offers a more consolidated way of sharing information than using e-mail or unsecure social media websites, she said.
“eMarine is going to fill in the gap regarding communicating with family back in the United States,” said Cpl. Bradley Schwartz, administrative clerk for III Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters Group, III MEF. “I was surprised at how quick and easy it was to register and invite my family members.”
Once families start using this site to stay in touch, it will make the family readiness officer’s job easier, said Frank W. Fay, the family readiness officer for 1st MAW.
“This site is going to streamline communications from units to its affiliates,” said Fay. “It will reduce the administrative burden the FROs face. The challenge with the site will be getting people to move from checking their e-mail to checking the site.” According to Gleason, some of eMarine’s features are similar to popular social-media websites.
Individuals with basic computer skills will find the site easy to use, according to Gleason.
“The site will have a chat feature on it, and you can access the site using mobile devices. Also, the site will not require a common access card for log-in,” she said.
“We hope to have all MARFORPAC family readiness officers trained by the end of September,” said Gleason. “The commandant wants the site to be completely operational for all units with funded family readiness officers by February 2012.”
“As soon as the site is built by the FRO, the commander can begin to invite Marines and their family members to subscribe,” she added.
“Please contact your FRO today to find out more about eMarine,” said Loftesnes.
Individuals can sign up by visiting emarine.org.