Officials with Headquarters and Service Battalion, U. S. Marine Corps Forces, Pacific, launched a new, family readiness information website with controlled access and social-networking capabilities on March 7.
The site is called “eMarine” and it is designed to provide family readiness officers a secure means to pass information to Marines, Sailors and their families.
“It’s awesome, and it will revolutionize the way I communicate with families and the way they will communicate with me,” said Casey Fleischmann, family readiness officer for HQSVCBN.
According to Fleischmann, the site, http://www.emarine.org, features numerous functions typically found on social-networking sites such as Facebook or Myspace. But unlike those sites, creating an account requires the FRO’s approval, which she can only authorize after verifying the user is either a Marine or their family member, thus eliminating the threat of strangers reading their personal information and interaction with the site.
“One of the reasons we are doing this is to provide a limited access alternative to Facebook and other social-networking sites,” said Lisa S. Gleason, an information technology specialist with MarForPac. “We want to bring family readiness and social networking to the command and off the unrestricted sites.”
But first and foremost, the site is intended to be a command information portal.
“The primary purpose of the site is to foster two-way communication between the command and the families,” Fleischmann said. “There’s a calendar on the site where I’ll be posting unit events so families can plan in advance and there’s a battalion news page.”
The HQSVCBN site is the first of more than 20 websites to launch under the eMarine pilot program and will set the standard for future eMarine sites for other MarForPac units.
HQSVCBN intends the site to be an easy-to-use, one-stop resource for Marines, Sailors and their families, according to Lt. Col. Milo L. Shank, HQSVCBN’s executive officer.
To facilitate that purpose, the site features several pages with information pertinent to Marines and families living in Hawaii, such as information for bringing pets from the mainland, lodging, child care and more.
“The site is going to be consistent across MarForPac regardless of your unit,” Gleason said. “Where you go to find information on one eMarine site is going to be the same on the other. That way, you don’t have to go searching for the information on a new site when you change duty stations.”
The site also features numerous feedback options such as open forums for event discussions and a polling system for Marines and family members aimed at enhancing the battalion’s ability to facilitate the needs of the families.
“Say I’m planning a family day for the unit, but I don’t know where to set it up,” Fleischmann said. “I can post a poll on the site where Marines and their families can vote on the venue and what food we should bring.”
The site also allows families to communicate with one another through the forums.
“So say you’re new to the island and looking for someone to go hiking with or shoe shopping,” Fleischmann said. “You can open a forum and say, ‘Hey does anyone want to go shoe shopping?’ It’s just a safe way to connect to our military family.”
More innovations such as a one-on-one chat function for site members and a mobile application for smart phones is in the works, according to Gleason.
“We want people to come for the information and stay because they enjoy the social-networking aspect,” Gleason said. “We’re going to be constantly looking for what our users expect and we want our audience to drive the requirements.”
Though the social-networking functions are designed to be fun, they serve a greater purpose.
“I want people to join because it’s going to bring us closer together as a unit and a family,” Fleischmann said.