In a time of fear and uncertainty, you need to listen to the authorities, not to a meme that someone shared. Not to your best friend’s mom who got an A in high school biology. And not to your military spouse Facebook groups.
Yeah, I said it.
Sure, there are some folks in those Facebook groups who are sharing real, solid information straight from authorities. But most of it is a cesspool, y’all. And it worries me that many people are sharing information that is actually disinformation. It might not be intentional. But it still can be damaging.
But no, you shouldn’t drink bleach. Not if you think you have the coronavirus. Not ever.
No, gargling salt water does not kill the coronavirus.
No, military pay isn’t indefinitely suspended. (It isn’t even suspended. No one is talking about doing that.)
But just like in real life, online rumors and false information can spread like wildfire and can muddy what is true. It can give people bad information that they act on. And in times of pandemics, bad or misleading information is dangerous. That’s why it is so, so, so important to know that the information you’re reading and sharing is reputable.
And the best way to get information? Direct from the source. While this is not a comprehensive list of every reputable news and government organization, it is a list to get you started and one that will give you the backbone of information you need to know, specifically for military life.
Your installation’s official channels
I’m not talking about the spouse group or even the FRG. I’m talking about your installation’s official Facebook or Twitter page. If you’re suspended between PCSes, follow both the one that you’re at right now and then the installation that you’re going to once the ban is lifted. Make sure that you’ve double-checked that it is the official social media of your installation and not a page that some rando created to share stuff about the area.
Your state government’s official channels
Take a few minutes and search for your governor’s official (not his/her/their re-election pages) Facebook page. Follow it. Then look up the social channels to your state’s Department of Health and Department of Education (especially if you have school-aged children).
Your city’s official channels
Your city or county is most likely on social media. Often times, a locality’s social media presence is better than their websites, given that so many were created in the late 90’s… and then never really updated for navigation or performance, which makes them hard to use.
If your family utilizes services from the Department of Veterans Affairs, you’ll want to see what is coming from them as coronavirus impacts the way medical facilities are run. If someone in your family is using a GI Bill benefit, you’ll also want to follow the VA as they also make policy decisions for that particular benefit as well. Here’s the VA’s Facebook page and website.
If you use TRICARE (and you probably do), you’ll want to bookmark their website and follow them on social media for information about coronavirus and how to go to the doctor’s, what to do if you think you have the virus, and other new, health-focused information. Here’s TRICARE’s Facebook page and website.
Offering military-specific news written by professional journalists who are trained in research, ethics, and all of the other stuff that Karen from 24 W. Maple St. is not, Military.com has been following COVID-19 and what it means for service members, veterans, and military families. Bookmark this landing page, where you’ll be able to see all of the up-to-date information about how the pandemic is affecting the military, broken down in a way that makes sense. Military.com is not a government publication. (Full disclosure, I work for Military.com.)
Stars and Stripes
Another excellent publication for the military community, Stars and Stripes has a heavy focus on OCONUS military life and has been covering the COVID-19 pandemic, especially with regards to travel and military families abroad. Stars and Stripes is a government publication. Bookmark this website.
Military Times is another media outlet for the military community. It is staffed with professional journalists as well. Like Military.com, Military Times also has a landing page for all things coronavirus. Military Times is not a government publication. Bookmark this landing page.
The Department of Defense
The DoD has been releasing a lot of messaging surrounding COVID-19 and policies that are being put in place for service members and military families, too. Fair warning: much of what the DoD shares is heavy, technical writing. My suggestion– read the directives from the DoD and then look for explainer pieces from organizations like Military.com that break them down into accessible information. Here’s the DoD’s website.
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