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Hometown News is service before self, not egoist

MCGHEE TYSON AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Tenn. -- Today's service members go automatically to popular social media to tell friends and family of their military experiences. But there's a much older media platform called Joint Hometown News Service that your grandparents, and maybe your parents, are more familiar with.

What remains relevant about a Joint Hometown News Release to tell a story?

- Ask your nana. Although you may not consider it, your grandmother or your mom still gets the world through a newspaper, and she also has a pair of scissors at the ready. If she is anything like my mom, she will one day hand off a box of clippings and photos of you through the years. In my clippings: a yellowed article and a mugshot of a ridiculously young Navy sailor upon basic training graduation in 1986.  It's a priceless treasure. 

- It's plugged into today's media. Clippings aside, JHNS began in the 1970's but has evolved to suit millennials, said officials.

Let's say you fill out a release using the new online system to share a promotion with family and friends. It still goes to the traditional newspapers for your nana - as well as TV and radio stations - but you now also get an electronic release link to share through email and post on social media accounts.

- You don't need special permission. In fact, commanders likely want you to use the service to share the good news. Gone are the boilerplate paper forms you wrote in only when someone handed them out after a class. An electronic form can be submitted online, anytime. You can upload a photo too. The system channels it automatically through your unit's release authority.

- JHNS connects national defense with communities. "The program was created as a way to share the service men and women's stories with external publications in their hometowns," - to highlight the positive things the U.S. military is doing on a daily basis, said Sara A. Taylor, a news service branch chief with the Defense Media Activity on Fort Meade, Md., in a recent email.

Taylor said that a majority of the 500 releases sent to zip codes each day by all service components generate from junior enlisted members completing basic military training or enlisted professional military education courses; however, she emphasized that all ranks should use JHNS as a way to tell their stories to their communities. That includes promotions; decorations; assumptions of command; deployments; enlistments; recognitions; retirements; and assignments, among other news on military service.

- It's your duty to share success, not your ego. You may think that all of these points may rely heavily on some kind of showoff attitude. In fact, it's instead a Service Before Self responsibility that should drive you to submit news releases regularly and throughout your military career. That's because the military-to-community connection strengthens from openness and insight.

Your commander and your loved-ones already consider the importance of you sharing your story. You're probably doing it online already, so just add Hometown News into that domain. Oh, right, here's the link: https://jhns.release.dma.mil/public.