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‘I didn’t know’ no longer works in age of social media

Published: 01:24PM February 13th, 2014

“Why didn’t I hear the base offered free tickets to Iron Man 3?” a military spouse complained to me last summer.

“The event ran for several weeks in the Northwest Guardian, the base paper, and it was promoted several times on the JBLM Facebook page,” I said. “Thousands of people knew about it.”

Then I asked, “Do you read the base paper or follow the JBLM Facebook page?”

“No,” the spouse responded.

“Then I recommend you do,” I replied.

We often get asked where to get information about JBLM. The answer is simple. Timely, accurate, and official JBLM-related information can be found in JBLM’s base newspaper, the Northwest Guardian – either in hard copy or via JBLM’s website. Prefer social media? No problem. Check out JBLM’s Facebook page and JBLM Twitter site. If you need JBLM-related information, these outlets are your first and best sources for up-to-date information regarding base-related topics.

Want to know more? See,, and

This information is for you.

Each day, JBLM swells to more than 115,000 service and family members, and civilian employees making it the seventh largest city in the state. It’s our job to keep you informed about the base.

“For families, information is power.” That’s what Maj. John Gibson, operations officer of the 1st Battalion, 17th Infantry Regiment, said in a Jan. 31 Northwest Guardian article as his unit prepared families ahead of their unit training at Yakima Training Center.

Every Friday the Northwest Guardian is available at more than 200 locations on JBLM (look for the dark red boxes), and it’s delivered to family housing on base. It’s also available on-line at

There’s something for everybody

When I ask people, “Do you read the Northwest Guardian?” I often hear, “No, there’s nothing in it for me,” “It only has training stories,” or “It’s only an Army paper.”

Let me dispel all three myths with some facts.Your Northwest Guardian covers many topics and it is truly a joint, Joint-Base paper. In 2013, it had 28 major articles per week; that’s 1,390 stories last year. To dismiss the “Army-only” perception, more than 115 of these stories prominently dealt with Air Force-related issues, and Air Force topics were on the front page 34 out of 50 weeks. Of the 1,390 stories, a few hundred dealt with Army topics, but for the most part, the Northwest Guardian crosses service lines and serves a broad audience.

For service members as well as civilian employees, there were 30 stories on personnel, records and promotions; 37 stories on military policies and regulations; 56 stories on awards and honors; and another 56 stories on pay, budget, sequestration and the government shutdown.

If you commute, live or work on JBLM, there were 28 stories about construction and traffic; 49 stories about safety and the military police; and 14 stories about JBLM first responder and emergency exercises.

Trying to stay in shape? There were 72 stories on fitness, food and running; 61 stories about sports and intramurals; and another 38 stories about youth activities.

JBLM is a community surrounded by communities. The Northwest Guardian ran 55 stories about family issues, some of which were about the Exceptional Family Member Program. There were 105 stories about MWR and AAFES-sponsored events, and other things to do; 12 stories about on-base housing, lodging or barracks; and nine stories about schools.

There were also 16 stories about animals; 22 stories about volunteers, or how to become a volunteer; and 77 stories about our civilian workforce and partnerships with our surrounding communities.

Providing our service and family members with quality care and resources is essential. In 2013 there were more than 90 stories about behavioral health, handling stress, wellness, Ready & Resilient, and sexual harassment and assault prevention, or SHARP resources. There were also 57 stories related to TRICARE, medical or dental care, or the Washington Department of Veterans Affairs.

For service members who are leaving the military there were 63 transition assistance stories, plus a new “Transitions” box on the Ledger page to highlight all veteran job fair or hiring events in the region.

The paper also had 39 articles about base history and the museums, and another 29 stories about the environment, recycling and other sustainability initiatives.

While the Northwest Guardian isn’t all about military training, there are stories about Soldiers and Airmen doing their job. In 2013 we ran 66 stories about deployments and welcome home ceremonies; 97 stories about unit training and missions; 24 stories about new equipment, technology and communications; 17 stories about I Corps’ rebalance in the Pacific; 59 articles about Air Force and Army leaders, leadership, or changes of command; and more than 100 senior leader commentaries about issues facing today’s military.

Last, but most important, we covered more than 20 memorials and remembrance ceremonies last year.

Although the Northwest Guardian is a comprehensive, authoritative source for JBLM-related information, it’s not your only option. JBLM maintains an active Facebook page that should be your first source for timely updates regarding timely issues, such as movie premiers (like Iron Man 3), I-5 traffic congestion, road construction updates, wild animal alerts, and weather-related problems.

Make it a habit to read the Northwest Guardian, don’t be afraid to “like” JBLM’s Facebook site, and feel free to “tweet” at JBLM on Twitter. Given these options, there’s simply no reason you should be left in the dark regarding JBLM events.