Squadrons passing on information

1 Sep 2011 | Sgt. Gina Rindt

A squadron recently returns from a six-month deployment, their families are excited about the news and waiting for the opportunity to clip a story or photo about their homecoming. But who is there to cover the story or get the information out to the service members, their families, the community and their hometowns?

The combat correspondents aboard the Air Station cover and release stories about the multiple events and festivals aboard the Air Station and in the local community. To get that information they rely on the command’s and more specifically the command’s Unit Information Officers.

The UIO plays a large role in providing information to the base to help keep the service members, their families and local communities informed. Another role they play is keeping the Speakers Bureau Program up-to-date in order to facilitate speaking engagements in the local community. That contact with local community is not limited to pyshical engagement, the UIO also controls the flow of digital information.

“I play an active role in developing the social media and reaching out to the families,” said 1st Lt. Jennifer Silvers, of Merritt Island, Fla., the UIO for Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 122. “I also feel I am a filter for [squadron] incidents, which can receive media attention.”

As a main point of contact for the squadron, the UIOs use different ways to get their message across to past and current service members in the squadron and their families.

“I’m helping with the development of a new Facebook page and making sure it runs properly,” Silvers said. “Being the UIO is important for the squadron’s image to the outside world.”

Unit Information Officers are not only responsible for providing information to the public affairs office and keeping the community informed, they have other duties and responsibilities in their squadron and units.

“I am responsible for many other things in the squadron such as being the operations, training and education officer,” said Capt. Bill Spink, of Quarryville, Pa., UIO for Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 31. “I have a lot of responsibilities, which I take charge of and make sure are handled properly and accurately.

“As the UIO I am the direct liaison between the public affairs officer and the community for the commanding officer, the squadron and the Marines and sailors who work here,” continued Spink.

Communities throughout the United States have a variety of families, veterans, patrons and military enthusiasts. The UIOs help provide them information through social media sites, radio, television, newspapers and more.

“As a veteran I am interested in what my previous squadrons and the military as a whole are doing,” said Tommy Koulianos, of Tarpon Springs, Fla. a Marine veteran. “I enjoy using the digital media more, but still pick up the paper and check on what the units are doing in the community and aboard the Air Station.

“Since the squadrons aboard the Air Station deploy on a regular basis, it is nice to know where they are and what they are doing.”

Keeping the service members, their families and friends, local communities and hometowns informed is a responsibility taken seriously by the UIOs. The information released and handed out is something most families can look forward to, it helps the squadrons illustrate how involved service members and their families are with the War on Terror as well as in the local community.