Suicide prevention, post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury will be the focus of an online interactive forum for military families Thursday hosted by Facebook.


The social media giant is joining with the Department of Veterans Affairs and the military family advocacy group Blue Star Families to launch a new “military crisis” service that will seek to connect friends and families with concerns about veterans and military family members with resources such as the Veterans Crisis Line.

The panel Thursday will discuss the results of the 2012 military family lifestyle survey conducted by Blue Star Families.

The online survey of about 4,000 military family members found that among respondents who believed a service member in the family had exhibited signs of post-traumatic stress, 62 percent did not seek treatment.

Blue Star Families said in a statement that the results demonstrate that there is still much to be done to help service members and their families cope with “the invisible wounds of war.”

The respondents named changes to retirement benefits as the top concern facing military families (cited by 31 percent) followed by pay and benefits (20 percent). Operational tempo and the effects of deployments on children were each at 7 percent, down from 15 and 14 percent respectively in 2010, a result that points to the winding down of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Six percent named post-traumatic stress, combat stress and traumatic brain injury as the top concern.

Blue Star Families said survey findings showing that social media use is “prevalent throughout military families” led to the decision to partner with Facebook. According to the survey, 71 percent of military families use social media to connect with other military families, and of those using it, 86 percent said they were daily users of Facebook.

The survey results were released in a joint session of the Senate and House Military Family caucuses Wednesday in the atrium of the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center.

“We owe it to our military families to do everything we can to ensure that they are healthy and strong, and that their needs are met,” said Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA). “That is why this survey is so critical – it gives military families a chance to make their voices heard.”

The panelists in the online forum include Vivian Greentree, Blue Star Families’ director of research and policy; Caitlin Thompson, a VA psychologist; Denise Hamlin-Glover, senior manager of the Combat Stress Recovery Program at the Wounded Warrior Project; and Joel Kaplan, Facebook’s vice president for U.S. public policy.

The panel will be streamed live from 3 to 3:45pm EST