Thursday, December 13, 2007

TOP STORY >>Service allows Airmen, friends, family to connect

By Staff Sgt. J.G. Buzanowski
Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs

WASHINGTON (AFPN) — Friends and family members can keep in touch with Airmen anywhere in the world through an instant messaging program available through the Air Force Portal.

Every Airman is permitted up to five guest users through the Friends and Family Instant Messaging service, which works “24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year,” said Lt. Col. David Gindhart, the Global Combat Support Systems program director.

“It’s an important morale tool for deployed Airmen, their friends and family, allowing them to stay connected, no matter where in the world they are,” Colonel Gindhart said. “All Airmen need to do is create an account for their loved ones and they can chat whenever they have access to the Web without jeopardizing Air Force network security.”

To register a guest, follow these steps:

Log into the Air Force Portal

In the upper right hand corner, click on the My Profile tab

Then click on the Manage FFIM tab

Click on Add an Account

Fill out the required information (name, e-mail address) and read the user policy

Click on Register

Two e-mails will then be sent automatically to the friend or family member’s address.

The first contains the individual’s username; the second will be a temporary password.

The guest then has 24 hours to log into the portal and create their own unique password, which they’ll use from that point on.

More than 20,000 guests are registered in the FFIM program, and more than 1,000 guests per week use the service, Colonel Gindhart said.

“One Airman’s mother wrote in, thanking us for providing this service,” Colonel Gindhart said. “While her son was deployed, she was able to chat with him online, giving her peace of mind that her son was safe. I have a hundred other quotes just like this — we are honored to provide this service, especially during holiday deployments.”

In addition, Colonel Gindhart said the GCSS staff hopes to expand the Air Force’s IM service and offer features comparable with commercial IM providers, like photo sharing and even video teleconferencing.


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