CENTCOM Twitter and Facebook Accounts Hacked

(March 22, 2013) Members of the joint U.S. Central Command stand at attention as Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey and CENTCOM commanders do the ceremonial "Passing of the Colors."

(March 22, 2013) Members of the joint U.S. Central Command stand at attention as Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey and CENTCOM commanders do the ceremonial “Passing of the Colors.”

Either a group or an individual claiming to be a part of the Islamic State (ISIS), hacked two social media accounts belonging to US Central Command, which oversees Department of Defense operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, and the rest of the Middle East, North Africa, and Central Asia, according to Politico.

The first tweet following the hack read, “AMERICAN SOLDIERS, WE ARE COMING, WATCH YOUR BACK. ISIS,” and linked to a longer statement threatening American soldiers and their families. The hackers also targeted Centcom’s YouTube page, posting ISIS propaganda videos.

The attacks happened earlier in the day as President Barack Obama was emphasizing the importance of cyber security to keep citizens safe from identity theft. As of 1:15 p.m., Politico reports that Twitter has suspended the CENTCOM account. The YouTube account also is suspended.

New Twitter Hashtag – #VetQ – for Veterans’ Questions

vetq1Do you want to learn more about veteran benefits or are you curious about adaptive sports?

If you can ask your question in 140 characters or less, tweet it to #VetQ on Twitter.

The new social media campaign is a collaborative effort between the Department of Veterans Affairs and seven Veteran Service Organizations which includes  Paralyzed Veterans of America.

The hashtag – #VetQ – will identify the question and allow the VA and partner organizations to answer it and promote their services. The idea is that more than one of the veteran service organizations will answer questions giving veterans a range of possible answers for their individual needs.

“I am excited at the prospect of using social networking to educate veterans, dependents, and caregivers on VA benefits,” Sherman Gillums, Jr., associate executive director of veterans benefits for Paralyzed Veterans of America, stated in the VA blog. “The #VetQ initiative will provide a dynamic forum to engage stakeholders in real time, which will help VA deliver timelier services. Additionally, it gives veterans service organizations like Paralyzed Veterans of America an opportunity to partner with VA in the effort to close transition gaps for Post-9/11 service members and their families.”

The VA digital team said over time, common questions and answers will likely be categorized on a frequently asked questions page.

The other VSOs collaborating on #VetQ are Veterans of Foreign Wars, Disabled American Veterans, the Home Depot Foundation, Student Veterans of America, Team Red, White & Blue, and the American Legion.

A Military Family Builds Community: 52 Dinners, 52 Guests

A January dinner, Sen. Susan Collins (second from left) visits with Sarah Smiley and her sons Owen, Lindell and Ford, one of 52 planned during the yearlong deployment.

Imagine inviting someone different into your home every week for a year – a school teacher – a cancer survivor – a senator – a police chief – University of Maine Hockey team members.

That’s how the Smiley family is marking the year-long deployment of their husband and dad,  Lt. Cmdr. Dustin Smiley, with 52 dinners, 52 guests.

The Smiley family has made a video and the U.S. Navy made it public through Twitter:

Sarah Smiley’s website has a fantastic page of reader submitted  tips for dealing with deployment:

  • A Lollipop Tree: We went to the craft store and bought a Styrofoam globe, a stick and a flower pot with the green arrangement foam. Then we put a small lollipop in the globe for each day my husband would be gone (6 months is a lot of lollipops) and every night my son could take one out.
  • Picture This: When my husband went on deployment the first time, we took pictures of him in all of his favorite spots in the house. The day he left I placed all of his pictures in their designated areas so that I would never feel like he was gone.
  • Counting Trash: The first time my husband was deployed we hadn’t yet had our daughter. Instead of dwelling on the number of days he was going to be gone, I counted the number of times I had to take the garbage out. It sounds weird but starting at 26 instead of 180 really worked nicely.

Sarah Smiley is a syndicated columnist, author, and military wife. Sarah and her husband Dustin have three children: Ford (10), Owen (8) and Lindell (4). Dustin is a Lt. Cmdr. in the Navy. They live in Maine.

Warriors Resilience Conference and “Brothers at War” Film

Building a formidable fighting force takes more than physical strength, it also takes psychological, spiritual and social resilience.

Learning how to build those strengths is the focus of the U.S. Defense Department’s fourth annual Warrior Resilience Conference titled “Restoring Readiness: Individual, Unit, Community and Family.”

The conference is being held March 29-30, Thursday and Friday, in Washington D.C. Yet, you can follow it live streaming online or follow comments on the conference through the Twitter hashtag: #WRC12.

Some comments from Twitter #WRC12:

  • I am impressed by both the questions and answers presented. Thank you.
  • Bureaucracy is the defined wedge between what’s needed and how long it will take.
  • @SEAC_JCS closes this morning’s senior enlisted panel with 3 key messages: Stay fit. Stay strong. Stay Resilient.
  • @DCoEPage Reaching out IS a sign of strength! Visit @realwarriors

The conference’s mission is to provide service members, units, families and communities with resilience-building techniques and tools that can be used “in garrison or in the field.”

Conference speakers include Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, Dr. Jonathan Woodson, assistant secretary of defense for health affairs, and Army Brig. Gen. Bryan Gamble, deputy director of TRICARE Management Activity.

As part of the Warriors Resilience Conference 2012, the documentary “Brothers at War” will be shown Thursday night and some of the film’s participants will be available for a “meet and greet” after the showing. Here’s the official trailer:

TBI: A Live Tweet on the Latest Diagnosis and Treatment

The Defense Centers for Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is hosting a “live Twitter event.” The idea is to have an hour-long Tweet discussion where you can ask your questions about TBI and get real-time answers.
The following announcement is from DoE:


As traumatic brain injury (TBI) has become one of the signature injuries of recent conflicts, it is imperative that health care providers, both in the military and civilian community who treat our wounded warriors and veterans, have the most up-to-date diagnosis and treatment information. The DoE works with a collaborative network of leading experts to develop and enhance provider tools.

DCoE will host a live discussion on Twitter, also known as a twitterview, March 28, 1-2p.m. EDT specifically targeted at health care providers.

Deputy Director of TBI Ms. Katherine Helmick will answer questions regarding tools available for the diagnosis and treatment of our warriors who have sustained a TBI.

What is Twitter? Twitter is a popular social media site founded in 2006 that allows users to post short messages limited to 140 characters or less, commonly known by users as “tweets.”

What is a “twitterview”? A twitterview is a live discussion on Twitter that allows users to tweet in their question to a specific individual/organization during a specified time.

To get involved in the discussion, follow @DCoEpage on Twitter or use the hashtag #DCoE.

Osama bin Laden: The Live-Tweeting of His Death

There’s been a rise of “citizen journalists” whether from the bombed neighborhoods in Syria to the tornado ravaged mid-west towns in the U.S.

If you’re in the Tampa Bay region this Tuesday, you have an opportunity to hear from a “citizen journalist” who tweeted live about the raid on the Pakistani compound of Osama bin Laden.

At the time, Sohaib Athar was an IT consultant from Abbottabad, Pakistan. He didn’t know the Black Hawk helicopters he was hearing belonged to U.S. military forces. But, on May 2, 2011, he heard sounds – first helicopters and then an explosion – and started tweeting. It was only later that he learned that he was tweeting about raid that led to the death of the al-Qaeda leader.

There is some question whether Athar is a true “citizen journalist” because he just tweeted about hearing helicopters and an explosion, but Steve Myers, managing editor for Poynter.org, wrote a piece explaining his use of the term:

Here are the journalistic activities that Athar, aka @ReallyVirtual, demonstrated in his tweets during and after the raid on bin Laden’s compound.

He observed something unusual and told others about it. For example:

  • Helicopter hovering above Abbottabad at 1AM (is a rare event).”
  • A huge window shaking bang here in Abbottabad Cantt. I hope its not the start of something nasty :-S”

He answered questions from others seeking information. A Twitter user asked Athar, “@ReallyVirtual Hello sir, any update on the blasts? What has really happened?”

Athar answered: “@m0hcin all silent after the blast, but a friend heard it 6 km away too… the helicopter is gone too.”

Athar is the featured guest for “Tweeting Osama’s Death: From Citizen to Journalist” at 7:30 p.m., Tuesday, March 6, at Eckerd College, 4200 54th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, Florida. Myers will moderate the discussion with Athar.

To learn more about Athar’s tweets, you can read Myers’ article posted on May 3, 2011 and his defense of the “citizen journalist” term on May 5, 2011.

The event is free and open to the public thanks to the sponsorship of the Eckerd College Organization of Students and the Poynter Institute.

VA Social Media Directory: An Online Single Source

All the major social media is there: Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, blogs and YouTube. The Department of Veterans Affairs has compiled a resource page of all of its VA Social Media.

Three VA Administrations

It’s clearly written broken down by the Department, the three separate administrations: Veterans Health, Veterans Benefits and National Cemetery Administration.

VA Medical Centers

There’s also a geographic listing of all VA Medical Centers. The directory is set up so you can check which location has an active Twitter account or blog. All appear to have their own Facebook page. You can click on the social media icon for that location and be taken directly the source.

Returning Service Members

And for OEF/OIF/OND Veterans (Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation New Dawn) there’s a VA website to locate support for returning service members  including links for military families, National Guard and Reservists and active duty.

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