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There are a few tips to keep in mind if you would like to get military participation in green friendly events. The Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps are very sensitive to their public image; anything you can do to impress your base Public Affairs officer that it would put the base in a good light with local media goes a long way towards getting their cooperation.
Try to bring the troops into something that allows them to feel good about the work they are doing without being afraid of making a political statement. Don't ask military members to go on camera or on-the-air to speak on behalf of the military. Only base Public Affairs people are allowed to do this. Your local troops may be eager to help, as long as you don't place them in the uncomfortable position of having to refer you to the base PA officer to speak to the media. Be careful not to maneuver the base Public Affairs officer into a media event without letting them know they may be asked questions by the local press. Doing so may jeopardize your chances of any future cooperation from a military base in your area.
Word travels fast among base PA people, this can work to your advantage or hurt you depending on how you handle the event. DO: Send an open invitation to local military public affairs offices. Make a point to let military leaders know you welcome and appreciate their involvement. It's very important for your troops to know that your group does not hold the base or the people working there personally responsible for environmental concerns, even if they are somehow connected to military activities in your area. Save the politics for another day. Give examples to your local Public Affairs officer of any media coverage you have had at past events.
Promise to thank the troops who volunteer with a letter of appreciation. These letters factor in to the quarterly performance reviews for military troops, anything you can send your volunteers in thanks will go a long way towards helping them as they try to get promoted and lead by example. These are just a few of the things to keep in mind when dealing with the military in your green support group activities. Remember that the military is a cross-section of America itself, there are many environmentally aware people in uniform, and they are eager to help.
|Sheri Ann Richerson|