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Ellsworth AFB Spouses Page

Ellsworth AFB S.D. -- The Commander's Action Line is a forum for the Ellsworth community to make suggestions or voice concerns about Ellsworth directly to Col. Mark Weatherington, 28th Bomb Wing commander. 

QUESTION 

Col Weatherington,
I have noticed lately that a Facebook page named Ellsworth AFB Spouses page has been in my opinion disgracing Ellsworth AFB. The posts have been demoralizing and demeaning of individuals and disrespectful of leadership with a no holds bar attitude. I understand we all have strong feelings on specific subjects but to slam wing leadership in calling for a snow day to protect the safety of our Airmen and civilian employees and the weather not meeting those expectations is beyond belief. I remember a couple of months back there was an incident in Douglas Schools where the spouses decided they were the judge and jury of a child that made a poor decision. What was posted on Facebook was awful and I assumed it was a onetime incident but I was wrong.
The Air Force sets a very high standard of integrity first, service before self and excellence in all we do. Does this exclude spouses? I do not believe so. When you marry someone who raises their right hand and promises to uphold the laws of this land you are signing on also. It is incredible to me that those spouses haven't considered how they reflect their husbands' careers when they write the demeaning and disrespectful things they post on that site for everyone to see.
What is next gay bashing? I hope not. What happened to the disclaimer? Is there a way to add this back? This page represents Ellsworth to the community and I have been quite ashamed lately to have said I am a spouse and stationed at Ellsworth. I am proud to be a spouse of a military member and understand that what I say and do represents not only myself but my spouse, Ellsworth, and the Air Force.
I would have posted this comment on the Ellsworth AFB Spouses page but I knew it would become another opportunity for opinions to fly. What can be done to protect individuals?
Thank you for your time.


Col. Mark Weatherington
Col. Mark
Weatherington
  RESPONSE

Thank you for your concern. The Ellsworth AFB Spouses site on Facebook is run independently by spouses for spouses. Although formerly affiliated with the base, it does not now enjoy official sanction by Ellsworth AFB or the 28th Bomb Wing.
Several weeks ago I directed all base agencies to sever ties to this Facebook page for many of these reasons you mention -- too much drama and misinformation, and some blatant violations of Air Force policy. At that time, I required the removal of all official 28th Bomb Wing and Air Force symbols; however, I allowed the site to retain the name "Ellsworth AFB Spouses" due to an existing Facebook policy that prevented the name change on a page with that many followers. I also required a disclaimer that the page does not represent the official views of Ellsworth AFB, and that disclaimer is still posted on the "info" section of the page.
I felt this represented the right balance of respect for free speech and public discourse--freedoms we deeply cherish and fight and die for as military members--while still providing a constructive and open outlet for spouses to benefit from the ease of sharing their thoughts and insights on a recognizable social media platform.
As you suggest however, many people still view the website and the opinions expressed on it as an official representation of Ellsworth AFB. Just as Private Organizations cannot mislead members of the public to assume a Private Organization is an organizational unit of the Air Force, social media pages cannot create or imply federal endorsement of their page or activities. Federal laws prohibit false claims of endorsement, sponsorship or association. I have asked my legal team to research further and recommend actions to eliminate the likelihood of confusion over the ownership or sponsorship of the page.
For additional guidance regarding military families and social media, you can contact our public affairs office at 385-5056.