Official Representatives

Discussion in 'Community Information and Feedback' started by goaliedad, Aug 26, 2009.

  1. goaliedad

    goaliedad Parent

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    I'm not sure if this has been discussed here before or not (did not see it in a brief scan through this forum), so I'll ask...

    I think one of the best features of SAF is the presence of "Official Representatives" such as Mr. Mullen with DoDMERB. I've also noticed lately that a member "fuji" lists himself and an affiliation to Mass Maritime, and would seem to be a good official authority on subjects specific to his home institution. I'm not sure how fuji found us, but I'm all in favor of members of his qualification.

    My question is whether SAF has reached out or if it would be appropriate for SAF to reach out to the various institutions (Service Academies and SMCs) to see if they would be interested in sponsoring an "official" member who handles specific concerns relating to their instituional procedures such as what Mr. Mullen does with DoDMERB issues.

    While I've found that most members do get their questions answered by either a parent, alum, or candidate member, I believe that greater value both from an accuracy perspective (current info) and from a comfort level of the recipient can be had from an "official" source.

    However, I recognize that there may be some level of discomfort with "official" sources being present in an "anonymous" type forum like SAF, so I believe this discussion, if it hasn't happened, probably should take place before inviting representatives from SAs or SMCs to participate in an official capacity.

    Thank you for your consideration.
     
  2. flieger83

    flieger83 Super Moderator Moderator

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    I don't know if the SAF folks have contacted any of the academies about having an "official" responder here but I'm going to take a guess and say "no." And I'm also going to go out on a limb here and say if they did, I think the SA's would say "no thank you."

    Why?

    Because a "formal representative" is just that. And with that official designation, there are expectations, unstated as well as stated, and possible legal issues should an error be made, etc. Mr Larry Mullen, the Deputy Director of DODMERB is on here, I'm willing to bet, on his own accord because he wishes to help. But notice he will not post ANYTHING other than that which can be found in the public realm with some searching. He addresses questions privately; probably because of the HIPAA requirements as well as to avoid passing information that really is only applicable to one individual but which, if posted publicly, could suddenly be interpreted by someone as an all encompassing "official answer" and then could be misapplied to some other person and it might really cause some problems.

    ALL that being said, you'll find that each academy area has folks like me (ALO's for USAFA/ROTC, B&GO's for USNA, Army LO's, USMMA Information Members, and USCGA members) which are "close" to official representatives. We work closely with these SA's and are part of the admissions process. And as I say to everyone: I may not know all the answers, BUT I have access to the folks that do!!!:thumb:

    Steve
    USAFA ALO
    USAFA '83
     
  3. Luigi59

    Luigi59 Banned

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    For USMMA they are called Admissions Field Representatives.

    For USCGA, they are called Academy Admissions Partners (AAPs).

    Excellent response, Steve.
     
  4. bsa07eagle

    bsa07eagle Member

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    yep, flieger is right,

    FERPA and HIPAA are the main reasons that that kind of stuff can't happen. I assume that that is the reason that Mr. Mullen always has people send stuff to him privately instead of posting information on the forums. I had to get all those laws and guidelines pounded into my head because of working for both the government and a state college. It is probably for the best that we don't have a system like that in place because if anything ever happened, we would get shut down. We already have many experienced people that roam this site looking for questions to answer, flieger and Mr. Mullen are just a few of the "official sources" that are available to all of us.

    Later,

    Brian
     
  5. flieger83

    flieger83 Super Moderator Moderator

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    Yep, I knew I had the titles wrong, I just "winged it" with the general idea being there. But once I saw your response, I remembered the nametags they wear at the "All Academy Days" we attend.

    Thank you!

    Steve
    USAFA ALO
    USAFA '83
     
  6. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    You also have official routes to take. It saves the academies from having to follow a growing number of social media sites that are unofficial. That doesn't mean that you won't have an official response from time to time, but monitored for action by an official representative? I don't think so either.
     
  7. Luigi59

    Luigi59 Banned

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    Exactly. The official academy web site is the place to find the appropriate person when your question/concern MUST be 100% accurate.
     
  8. GoNavyMom

    GoNavyMom Member

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    Hi,

    As a parent, I don't think it's a good idea to get a response from an official representative on the SAF.

    There are exceptions in every situation and each candidate is reviewed on an individual basis. A general response from an official rep might discourage an applicant. If there hadn't been an unofficial response from an official source, the candidate would have applied and would then have been reviewed on an individual basis.

    GoNavyMom
     
  9. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    Understand, however "assigning" a member to monitor and respond in an official capacity would most likely not be possible. Why would that official engage SAF but not CC? Then, what if "MilitaryAcademyForums.com" comes out and then "FederalServiceAcademyForums"....the list could be endless, and yet, that service would maintain it's own one stop shopping site for you to get those official questions answer, not to mention phone numbers. It's a slippery slope I can safely assume service academies don't want to get into. Services can also not endorse various social media sites.
     
  10. Maximus

    Maximus Member

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    COL TYGE RUGENSTEIN (Commandant, USMAPS) told all us parents at USMAPS R Day, that he was banned from Plebe net because they didn't want "Big Brother" watching. He was laughing because it came out that a CC was calling home from the hospital and he picked up on that trick from reading the e mails back and forth advising other parents about the trick.... :shake: :biggrin:
     
  11. MullenLE

    MullenLE Member

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    A few points toward this discussion:

    1. The SAs and ROTC will NOT become members of the SAF. As stated below, there are too many social networks out there already and unlimited ones still in design/development. They would NOT be able to keep up. Also, they have their OFFICIAL websites. These are the only OFFICIALLY ENDORSED websites providing 100% accurate information.

    2. SAF is a social network. It is one of the premier sites of any type! People with similar experiences, goals, aspirations, etc., can come and discuss issues as a group in the privacy of where they reside. Some folks come for a glimmer of hope/reinforcement…”He/she did X pull-ups on the CFA and got in and I did Y and didn’t get in…” “Sen B gave she/he a nomination and his/her GPA was ONLY “X.XX” while my GPA was X.XX++” and I didn’t get a nomination.”

    3. @ this juncture, 25% of my workload from SAF comes from postings and 75% come from folks that “monitor” SAF. Our SAF “constituents” are applicants, parents, physicians, lawyers, coaches, liaison officers, counselors, etc.

    4. My boss is a true VISIONARY…just like ADM Thad Allen, Commandant of the CG. He wants to ensure we get the information out to the folks who need/want it/when they’re available to receive it. We have been delayed in fielding the robust website we want, so here I am I violate every principle of normalcy by providing my official title and email address. But, we’re getting the job done AND I’m learning how the DoDMERB website will be designed. Short and sweet info for the folks that like it that way. .. Greater depth and detail, for those that assimilate information better that way… And hopefully, all the degrees in between.

    5. There are miniscule filters on websites and SAF has recently established the rules of the road. “Forum Rules” were just established 2 weeks ago by Tactical Nuke. The intent is clear, the implementation is somewhat harder to police. This segues into my next segment.

    6. I approach the SAF in my responses as a result of privacy to be sure, but far more importantly, due to the lack of individual specificity of using “labels.” Medical conditions have a wide spectrum of frequencies, incidences, severity, individual effects on functioning, etc. . The best example I can think of to illustrate the issue is having one kidney---certainly a very black and white example, right?

    a. All applicants in this situation will be determined by DoDMERB to NOT meet medical standards. (This label works, in this instance.)
    b. The vast amount of the population will have two. Now, the myriad of variables occur.
    i. Some were born with just one kidney
    ii. Some donated a kidney
    iii. Some lost one due to disease, resulting trauma, etc.
    iv. Some that have two kidneys, have kidneys that are not functioning as well as they should
    v. Some that have one kidney are in better health from a renal perspective than folks in “iv” above.
    c. Some will get waived, some won’t. Why? Because their individual circumstances will vary greatly. Using the “label,” without seeing the individual clinical assessments and the effects on individual performance …, provides a disservice in saying “Yes, one kidney can be waived” or “NO, one kidney won’t’ be waived.”

    7. DoDMERB will meet our mission to medically evaluate applicants to two criteria: Those that MEET standards and those that do NOT meet standards. Our goals are to “leave no applicant behind; make the process as seamless, transparent, and frictionless as possible; and to reinforce that there is a 100% certainty, that if a young person DOESN’T apply, they will NOT meet medical standards and will NOT receive a waiver.” I get innumerable queries a day founded in “what are my chances?” Until we know factually ….by exam and/or medical records, we’re not in the speculation business. Therefore, if the prospect of a Service Academy/ROTC interests the applicant, APPLY. Apply early and to more than one. Apply to civilian institutions also. Maneuver yourself to be in a dilema, weher you applied to 2 or more SAs; two more more ROTC programs; and 2 or more civilian programs. While you might be accepted by all, you may be accepted by only a few, but until you apply, you will NOT know for sure. It is also important for those that don't get accepted to any, to know where they stand and what opportunities DO exist for them to pursue.

    8. Bottom Lines:

    a. To accomplish 7 above, DoDMERB is trying to be like an ATM. Given our limited resources, we are trying to expand all options to meet our goals: Our presence on the SAF; A call in and soon to expand to email Help Desk; expanding our hours and staffing during the day; using voice recordings 24 hours per day for call backs; designing a better website; etc.
    b. I go to an ATM solely to get cash. Susie goes to an ATM to get her cash and stamps. Johnny only uses the ATM to make deposits. Dweeb, who can’t afford to have a computer, only goes to the ATM to check Dweeb’s balances to preclude overdrafts. Ultimately, an ATM meets the needs of 98% of the population and does it 24/7/365. DoDMERB is committed to achieving our goals. Not everyone is “medically fit” for military service; most are. Our obligation is to make the appropriate determination and make the process as hassle free as possible:thumb:
     
  12. MullenLE

    MullenLE Member

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    Of course as soon as you say something, there's always room for change:smile: While I still believe without a doubt that the SAs and ROTC programs will NOT participate officially on SAF, there is a move afoot, led by the CG (see http://www.govexec.com/story_page.cfm?filepath=/features/0709-01/0709-01s1s1.htm&oref=search) and the USCGA to ease up on social networks. Now, USAFA has decided to dip it's toes into the water (http://csmng.com/blog/2009/08/28/academy-joins-social-media-scene/). So I expect the others will follow.

    That said, The Academy (USAFA) will use Facebook and other social media sites to drive traffic toward its official public Web site..." This is what many of us described below:thumb:
     
  13. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    When the Coast Guard DOES officially participate, the name, rank, and job title are included in posts as is specificed in the most recent ALCOAST concerning this subject. There is also a disclaimer that talks about "not endorsing" a website. Officially participating and having someone assigned to monitor and regularly respond are two separate issues.
     
  14. goaliedad

    goaliedad Parent

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    As the OP for this thread, I've sat back and watched the discussion with great interest.

    I chose to respond here, especially following the posting by our greatly appreciated Mr. Mullen to add a couple more thoughts on the concept of "official representatives"...

    I chose to open this topic in part because of the help Mr. Mullen provided me, redirecting me to an Army ROTC source who clarified recent changes to the AROTC procedures authorizing the initiation of the DoDMERB process. Mr. Mullen, in his position, is not in the business of keeping up with the year to year changes in the various ROTC procedures, although he has proven that he knows where to get the correct answer in our case. He is an expert in the DoDMERB process. He handles questions in the process and specific questions in a professional and expeditious manner with private issues dealt with in private and procedural clarificaitions explained clearly as needed.

    My thinking would be that it would be great to have similar representatives to help with other parts of the ROTC and/or SMC and/or SA admissions processes in a similar manner. In our case, an AROTC representative could have posted that effective on X date, all DoDMERB referrals will only occur once a scholarship has been awarded. I was happy to share this knowledge (except I didn't find out what the date was) with others here, but I was hoping to have a more direct channel to get this information out to the members here.

    And I am very appreciative that Mr. Mullen's leadership has made it possible for him to help out here, while they put together their own website (hopefully reducing the need for him to help out here - not that we don't like him, but he does have many things to do in his position). I cannot speak for the SA websites (that is not an area of our specific interests), I can say that the AROTC website does a good job of providing the overall process, but does not lend itself to answering the specific questions like we had about the order of operations and changes in the process. They do have a forum that is broadly categorized, but seems to lack a strong presence like Mr. Mullen provides here, steering specific questions to the right place and answering general procedural questions directly and in public. Not to criticize the AROTC discussion forum or its support, but I don't think it was designed with this type of service in mind. And they, like DoDMERB may well be desigining changes to their website to better address this need, but in the meantime, it would be nice if they (and other branch ROTC representatives) could provide a similar bridge on what would appear to be a wonderful forum.

    I do agree that there are lots of social media that the services could be monitoring to provide help, but obviously the success that Mr. Mullen provides here certainly indicates that spending the resources here would be effort well spent. It is a testiment to both the effort of Mr. Mullen (and others with official information) and the SAF staff that we have a well structured and moderated forum to get both useful information in many subforums, and entertaining material of interest to the community in other subforums.

    As to the question of specific ROTC units having reps here, I think that would be a bit too much (too many schools and units with a regular turnover in staffing would be difficult manage anyway). The SMCs, I would think, would be happy to have reps here, as they, very much like ROTC units have a need to provide useful recruiting information specific to their programs, but unlike the ROTC units, are marketing the whole school and experience which is different from both the ROTC and SA experience. They have professional admissions and recruiting staffs who actively look for more ways to promote their institutions that are more suitable than idividual ROTC units to the needs of working a media like SAF. Some do have their own discussion boards, but even if they use SAF as a medium to direct SAF members to their own forums, it has served a good purpose - getting accurate information from the official source to interested parties. SAF should still be able to compete on its broader mission to keep eyes watching the advertisements with its interesting variety of subjects and contributing members.

    Whether or not SAF engages "official representatives", it will still be a great place to learn and share information and experiences. And this thread is a tribute to a community that can actively debate the direction of the forum in a thoughtful and respectul manner. :thumb:

    Thanks for all of your thoughts.
     
  15. TacticalNuke

    TacticalNuke Administrator

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    I've been watching this thread for a while and wanted to chime in here to give the stance of Service Academy Forums.

    In regards to official representatives, it has always been the policy of Service Academy Forums to provide for official representatives and the academies in general in whatever way possible. We've been very fortunate to have various officials from the academies, DoDMERB, military preparatory schools and various other military organizations posting here and we hope to be able to continue to cater to their needs. Our goal is to provide a discussion forum to share service academy information, and we're willing to help however we can to realize that goal. We do not approach the academies or other organizations in order to attract official members, but we welcome them to join the forum.

    Thank you for your time.

    -TN
     

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