When Defense Department officials took a peek at the first statistics on who was using their new chat support feature rolled out in late October they saw something a little surprising.
Most of the people using chat to talk to a representative were using it to get connected with free non-medical counseling -- that makes sense. And most of those people were active duty service members who appeared to be using the feature during the middle of their duty day.
Troops. During the duty day. Getting medical and emotional support.
That obviously excites DoD officials, who really want as many people using the counseling services as possible.
"The goal is to meet our members and families where they are and give them information their way," said Deborah Maraia, who oversees the non-medical counseling program for the DoD's family policy office. "The live chat feature is another way to give people information along with their preferences."
When I think about Military OneSource I think about families. I think about spouses. I think about a hook-up for a trip to a nice couch in a quiet office where I get to talk about what's eating at me.
One of the tricky things about it, though, is that you have to make that call to get the whole thing started. The screening process to get hooked up with a counselor can take about 30 minutes, during which you need to be somewhere you can talk about what you need without other people overhearing your business.
The live chat feature, however, which is available on both mobile and the desktop version, is completely quiet. You could use it at your desk without anyone knowing. And that's awesome.
Maraia said troops may also be using it in higher numbers because it's just a form of communication that is easy for them.
The counselors who run the live-chat have the same qualifications everyone else including a degree in a health related field and six weeks of training specific to working with Military OneSource users.
Next time I'm needing to set-up one of these appointments, I'm going to try the chat function. Let us know what you think of it in the comments.