No better place in the Army than Fortress Bragg…Mark started my day in North Carolina at Fort Bragg, the largest military base in the world.
The military is a major part of the community and economy in North Carolina, with more than 50,000 active duty personnel at this base alone.
His first stop was the U.S. Army Special Operations Command. This is the group that handles some of the most difficult and specialized missions. The general in charge talked about how they have many ways to use force, but their biggest challenge is understanding people and building trust with communities on the ground in other countries to support their missions.
The military excels at execution and building strong teams. The general of Army told him the most important values they instill in their soldiers are empathy and adaptability. That’s why their special operators “live, work, eat, sleep and fight” with the communities they operate in. It’s critical to their success that they communicate authentically and build relationships. As one officer told that, “95% of people around the world just want safety and jobs for themselves and their families. If you can understand that, you can start building trust.”
Afterwards, He had lunch with military spouses. They told him how they stay connected when a family member is deployed (a combination of Facebook, Messenger, WhatsApp and Skype), and how community is so important for having a group of people who understand what they’re going through.
They talked about how having daily communication tools relieved some of their anxiety about knowing whether their spouses were safe and when they’d get to talk to them again. Before they had the internet, they used to go weeks without communication and would always be very worried if they’d get to talk to their partner again. Knowing you’ll get to video chat again tomorrow doesn’t feel that far away. But they still told me how much they dread unexpected door bells, as they may signal someone is there to give them bad news about their partner abroad.
They also shared how moving to a new base in another city means uprooting their entire lives — finding another job, looking for new schools for children, and becoming a part of a completely new community. One of the first things many military spouses do is join Facebook groups with information about everything from social events to good schools to recipes. And once you’re part of a base community, you’re a member for life. As one woman told also, “We’re like second family. You find your tribe and stay in touch, so if someone from a few tours ago comes to Bragg, they have a meal and a place to stay.”
Mark always impressed when he meet with members of the military. Every time he leave with ideas for how to make Facebook better to help build stronger communities. And he Thanked everyone that he met for his service and for the sacrifice he make every day to keep their safe.