By Paolo Mottola, Guest Writer to the Hawaii Army WeeklyNovember 27, 2009
SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii - Col. Dianne Pannes is stationed at Schofield Barracks, but shares her stories about Army life with the world.
Pannes is one of more than 55 Soldier bloggers writing for Army Strong Stories, www.armystrongstories.com.
During the past year, Pannes has written about accepting awards from the Academy of General Dentistry Conference in Baltimore, re-enlisting a Dental Activity (DENTAC) Soldier aboard the USS Arizona Memorial, and exploring the Big Island with her graduating class of Advanced Education in General Dentistry students.
"I really like to blog about the success of my residents," Pannes said. "Teaching has been such a pleasant surprise for me. I'm more proud of my residents' accomplishments than anything I've ever done."
Army Strong Stories is the U.S. Army Accessions Command's (USAAC) signature blog that provides Soldiers an online destination where they can share stories through blog entries, photos and video, as well as connect and interact with fellow Soldiers, family, friends, future Soldiers, and others interest in Army service. The site is in need of more bloggers to offer a robust picture of Army life.
Open to Soldiers and cadets of every rank or military occupational specialty (MOS), Army Strong Stories launched last year and has since developed a community of Soldier bloggers stationed all over the world, including Germany, Iraq and South Korea.
Pannes is the assistant director for the Advanced Education in General Dentistry Two-Year Program. She began writing in November 2008 after hearing about Army Strong Stories from her U.S. Army Recruiting Command, Dental Corps subject matter expert, Capt. Nathan Parrish.
Now approaching her second year of blogging, Pannes says she most enjoys the interaction with readers.
"I really enjoy the e-mails from friends that I've been stationed with before - and the questions from new acquaintances - continually connecting with good people," she said.
Maj. Mary Constantino, chief of program analysis and initiatives for the USAAC Directorate of Marketing, oversees some aspects of USAAC's social media, including Army Strong Stories.
"The whole intent of Army Strong Stories is to make the Army transparent to the public, especially for people interested in joining," she said. "We don't tell the Soldiers what to write about, and we don't censor their content, so that readers know what Army life is really like. We hope these authentic Soldier stories serve as a resource to connect Soldiers with their friends and family as well as for people considering enlisting to communicate with Soldiers in their fields of interest."
Pannes sees how civilians look to the Army Strong Stories as a resource to better understand Soldiers' lives.
"It's interesting that most of the questions I get are about personal life, Soldiers dating and marrying and opportunities for spouses," Pannes said.
Constantino said she would like to see Army Strong Stories continue to grow because of the mutual benefit the community has for providing a place for Soldiers to share stories and the public to learn more about Army life.
"If Soldiers want to tell their story, we want them to tell it here," Constantino explained. "It's a great way for them to get their story out to a large number of Americans. The Army is a microcosm representing America, and we are eager to get as many Soldiers as possible to participate."
"By communicating, we help each other," she added. "There is always someone, somewhere who has the answer or has had the experience. We can only be better by sharing our stories."