Facebook 'angels' named inspired leaders
January 19, 2011
- Three military spouses honored for volunteer efforts
- Wives spend hours daily on Fort Benning Facebook page answering questions for new military spouses, incoming Soldiers, families
- Fort Benning site "turned out to be a life-saver," says award recipient
FORT BENNING, Ga. - If you've been on the Fort Benning Facebook page recently, you may recognize the names of a few women who patrol the site daily, answering questions and offering advice to thousands of the installation's Facebook followers: Andrea McTaggart, Rhonda Young and JoLynn Mowrer.
The Army spouses were recognized for their volunteer efforts at an Inspired Leadership award ceremony Wednesday in the Doughboy Room shortly before the post's first Facebook Town Hall began.
"We've been noticing for a long time that we have three individuals in particular who've been on the page a lot, answering questions for new Army moms, girlfriends and new Soldiers moving here ... We appreciate that. There are not enough of us to go around and having them help us out is tremendous and it means a lot to us," said Anthony O'Bryant, Fort Benning's web content manager.
Their well-researched and helpful answers are one of the reasons the post's Facebook page is so successful, he said.
The page currently has more than 49,200 followers - one of the largest of the Army's social media pages - and receives hundreds of questions and comments daily.
Garrison Commander Col. Thomas Macdonald was on hand to present the awards and said the women have been "very special in helping us get to this point."
McTaggart is a mother of one and the wife of a Sand Hill drill sergeant, Staff Sgt. Jerry McTaggart. She is originally from Germany and routinely answers questions on good areas to live, what basic training Soldiers are doing and residency questions for spouses coming from overseas.
"Andrea is a huge help on the Benning MWR Facebook page," said Bridgett Siter, e-commerce marketing specialist with the Directorate of Family Morale, Welfare and Recreation. "I know I can trust her work. She is someone we quickly identified as someone who knows what she's talking about. She has a good attitude, she does the research and if she doesn't know the answer, she goes and finds it - she doesn't give a 'pat' answer."
McTaggart helps maintain several Facebook pages for her family readiness group.
Young is a mother of six and the wife of a company commander on Sand Hill, Capt. John Young, and is the family readiness group leader for 2nd Battalion, 46th Infantry Regiment. She helps with the company Facebook page and is part of an FRG that pioneered "meet and greet" events with families coming into town for their Soldiers' graduations from training.
Young said she draws from her experience as a military spouse for eight years and through four deployments to answer questions. For those she doesn't know the answer to, she hits the books or calls her husband.
"I've been in their shoes," said Young of why she volunteers her time helping answer questions on the Facebook site. "When I met my husband and we reported to his duty station at Fort Bragg, N.C., ... within three months we were called to an FRG meeting and were told they would be deploying within the week. And I had nobody. I was away from my family for the first time."
Mowrer is a new Army wife and recently moved to Fort Benning from Palestine, Ill., with her husband, Pfc. Kasey Mowrer, who is a medic with the 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team. Kasey attended basic training at Fort Benning and Mowrer offers insight into training and adjusting to Army life. She recommends books like The Army Wife to help new spouses learn the ropes. Mowrer said when she first arrived at Fort Benning, the post's Facebook page "turned out to be a life-saver" and she wants to pay it forward by helping others.
The women said feedback they've received from families has been positive and many have gone so far as to call them angels.
"I've made some really good friends," McTaggart said. She thanked the Fort Benning site's creators for giving families a place to share information.
"It doesn't just benefit new people, it's also for those of us who are permanent party here. We get our issues addressed too and it helps us out and makes this place feel like home," she said.
Log on to the Fort Benning Facebook page at www.facebook.com/fortbenningfans.
Inspired Leadership award:
The Commanding General's Inspired Leadership Recognition Program recognizes Soldiers, civilians and family members who best demonstrate inspired leadership. The commanding general and the Maneuver Center of Excellence command sergeant major approve nominees. Nominations may be sent to the Fort Benning Public Affairs Office by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. The following information must be included: name, duty section, contact information, detailed justification for nomination, name of submitter and point of contact information. For more information, call 706-545-4585.