The military's primary online family resource will be getting a facelift by the fall of this year in an effort to make the site easier to use, a top Defense Department official announced Thursday to a group of military spouses.
"This is all out there already, but do not underestimate what it takes for the DoD to embrace these things because of [operational security]," said Rosemary Williams, the Defense Department's deputy secretary for military family policy. "We have listened to your feedback, and we are doing our best to keep abreast of available digital technologies and web platforms, and really hone in on what information is most valuable to you and the way in which it is delivered."
MilitaryOneSource.mil is used by the Defense Department as a central syphon for military family help. Through the website and 800-number military families can access resources like free mental health counseling and military spouse education and career help.
Williams announced the redesign today during remarks at the Military Spouse Magazine annual town hall event in Crystal City, Va. About 100 military spouses and supporters attended the invitation-only event as part of the annual Military Spouse of the Year award celebration, sponsored in part by Military.com.
The redesign aims to make the site easier to navigate, Williams said. For example, Military OneSource currently has resources organized into 23 military life topics. After the redesign it will be organized into seven, she said. Officials are also planning to reduce the articles on the site from 1,500 to 600. And the mobile site, which is currently difficult to use, will be redesigned into an easy to use portal, she said.
"It will be easier, better and faster," Williams said.
The government issued a Request for Information earlier this year to companies to determine what potential changes could be made.
Officials identified goals for the redesigns by conducting a series of studies on how families use the site, she said. One of those goals is to better utilize social media on the site and engage service members and their families, according to the RFI.
"Based on these studies we determined that less is more," she said.
Officials also want the site to integrate an easier log-in system that can be used to access all military family information. They are also hoping to use the site to beef up access to military family support non-profits, she said.
Defense Department officials have long pushed the Military OneSource website and help line as the primary military family help resource. And while officials can't force spouses to use it, Williams worries that some aren't accessing it because they don't know about it.
"If you get in a pickle, call this number," she said. "If you have a pulse, call this number."
Information was not immediately available on how much the changes will cost the Defense Department.
-- Amy Bushatz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org