Together We Served

As part of this week’s theme of methods to network with your military and veteran contacts, I’m trying out social media sites and other outlets designed to connect those who serve and have served. Last night, I decided to try out Together We Served (TWS). Similar to RallyPoint, which I covered yesterday, Together We Served is designed for current and former military members. Unlike RallyPoint, it also allows family members of deceased veterans to create accounts. The difference in participation is due largely to the difference in mission: RallyPoint is designed primarily as a professional networking tool, while Together We Served bills itself as a social site as well as where veterans can “record the legacy of their military story.”

Started in 2003 as a Marine only site, Together We Served has grown to five websites, one for each branch, all linked into the main site. It is also supported by USAA bank and they even have a partnership involving a USAA credit card, where USAA will make a donation to Together We Served and, with your first purchase, you can earn a lifetime membership to TWS. Its site claims to have over 1.3 million members and to have “reconnected more service men and women than any other website or organization.” I can’t vouch for the veracity of that statement but I can say that there were an incredible number of names that popped up as soon as I started creating my profile.

Here’s what else I can say for a fact:

On the positive side, Together We Served offers a few unique options on its profile creation page, such as the ability to build a virtual “shadow box,” which is extensive and can be printed and framed, if you are so inclined. It also keeps an online war memorial called the “Roll of Honor,” which lists every servicemember who has fallen since the start of the Vietnam War and includes many of those who died before that time. Family members of the deceased can create a virtual shadowbox for their fallen loved one on the “Roll of Honor.” To see an example of a shadowbox, this one for an F-16 pilot I knew who was killed in Afghanistan, you can click here.

Additionally, once you begin adding your units, training, and other experience, Together We Served starts searching for other individuals who have served in that same unit or attended the same training and sends those names to your e-mail inbox very quickly. It also has the option to not only browse other profiles (though there’s a catch with that, which I’ll address shortly), but you can catch up on military related news, review recently uploaded photos and stories, and join discussion threads.

That said, I found a lot about Together We Served that I didn’t really care for. Let me be clear that this is my personal opinion and, for some of you social media lovers out there, what I’m about to say may not deter you in the least. It did, however, deter me.

First, you have to pay about $20 a year to have full access to the site. Now, to be fair, that’s not much and, according to the site, it’s done because they don’t sell your information and they don’t bombard you with ads (except for the USAA credit card image that keeps showing up on various pages). I don’t particularly feel the need to pay to connect with my military friends. However, my bigger bother with this was that they say you don’t have to pay to be able to view other profiles but you really do.

My issue with not being able to view other profiles was that I had no way to gauge what information is actually available to someone else looking at my profile. This was a concern for me because Together We Served required a few bits of information that other social media sites haven’t asked me for, such as my zip code, and displayed that information on my profile, at least the profile I could see. Again, I had no way to tell what others could see and I couldn’t find any privacy setting function to be able to hide that information. While I understand that all social media is a bit of a roll of the dice when it comes to security, I prefer to at least have the impression my information isn’t all hanging out for everyone to see.

My last little disappointment with the site was that, once I decided that too much information was revealed for my liking and I wanted to delete my account, the site didn’t present any way to do that. I ended up contacting their support line, via e-mail message, asking how I could delete my account due to my concerns over the information available for public viewing. I got no response, nothing asking me which information I found too revealing or any follow up, and no notice that my account had been deleted. Instead, I just got a “no member found” message when I attempted to log in today and see the status.

Overall, if you’re looking for a very active, in depth site designed to connect you with your fellow veterans on a personal, social level, or a place where you can record your military history and/or that of a loved one, I suggest you check out Together We Served for yourself and see if it’s a better fit for you than it was for me. You can find it at www.togetherweserved.com. You can also check them out on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

© 2014, Captain. All rights reserved.

12 thoughts on “Together We Served

  1. Ivan

    Thanks for the article Captain. Somebody has already mentioned the difficulty they had cancelling out of TWS. You will be hard-pressed to find an un-subscribe menu tab on their site. After I did cancel, I got e-mails informing me TWS needed security info for my credit card, which had renewed. I did NOT give them the new info and asked them why they were even trying to charge my card since I wanted out? They did not reply but somehow they did manage to put thru a charge of $19.95 anyway, totally unauthorized by me! Am now trying to get charge removed.

    Reply
  2. I joined TWS/Navy back when it first became available. I filled out quite a bit of info about places I’d been stationed and other tidbits. I took my sweet time filling in my info, and during that time frame they began providing names of othera who were stationed where you were and at the same time.
    I did find one old shipmate and it was nice to exchange a few messages. I would otherwise never have gotten to speak with him again as he wasn’t a facebooker.
    After TWS I finally found my way to FaceBook in 2009. I found that web complex far easier to meet old Navy buddies, and I found quite a number of them. We hooked up again and re-established old friendships.
    FaceBook was the way to go for me to find old Veteran friends I’d served with. I found dozens.
    I don’t bother much with TWS/Navy at all anymore. Lately they’ve been on an advertising kick in the form of Spamming my email box, most recently today with the announcement of their store.
    No, I don’t have much use for TWS, but others may find it a good way for them to hook up with old friends, it certainly is worth a look and a consideration.
    FaceBook though is what really delivered in finding old Veteran friends, and in a big way.

    Reply
  3. Johnny Jingo

    I think this site sucks donkey’s sack. Reword that for the censor panel but still know it’s true. Now let me count the ways.

    (1) I’ve been a member almost since TWS was incepted and I can’t think of another social network site that blocks you from connecting to your friends — in this case fellow veterans — unless you pony up bucks. I think that’s fucking horseshit and a reason why TWS was just a four-month flash in the pan. I guarantee with Facebook’s dawning domination over connection social media the same time TWS debuted those fuckers saw a huge drop off in their followers. Only reason why these guys are still operating is the low overhead of running a website. I’d love to embrace my old shipmates in a pro-military forum but these sssholes forced my hand to make those connections through FB. With good marketing they could have made huge money through maintaining the substantially sized vet niche while keeping this site free but they went the way of Kodak, bypassing digital for Advantix panoramic film. M

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  4. ChrisS

    I actually waited until 0808 EST today and got site staff in a live chat. It was much like dealing with one of those shady used car salesmen that are located outside of every base in CONUS. I kept the chat transcript, and the person admitted that it is a business entity before anything else. It was like pulling teeth, but eventually my account was deleted with a little snarling on their part. Dopey me.

    Reply
    1. Captain

      Post author

      Chris,

      Well, I am glad you got it accomplished, even if the process was a bit painful!

      Sarah

      Reply
  5. They just took out another years membership on me. I don’t recall giving them this permission. I can’t even find a way to contact them. I may call my bank to dispute the charges. Thing is it’s only $20.00. It’s a good site to reconnect with those you served with though. I don’t like feeling duped even by a Veterans group.

    Reply
    1. Captain

      Post author

      Ron,

      Since I cancelled my account, I can’t see the subscription rules, so it’s possible you may have agreed to an auto-renewal policy. I did check their Terms of Service and found the following information about cancelling your account:

      “Canceling Subscription Services. You may terminate Subscription Services at any time by contacting our Membership Department at admin@navy.togetherweserved.com. If you have a dispute with us relating to the Website or the Subscription Services, you may cancel the Subscription Services. The cancellation of Subscription Services is your only remedy with respect to any such dispute that you may have with us. We will attempt to process all cancellation requests within 72 hours after we receive your request. Any such termination or cancellation is subject to the no-refund policy described below. Please remember that if we determine, in our sole discretion, that you are not complying with the Terms of Use (or the Community Guidelines therein), we reserve the right to terminate your Subscription Services . Upon any termination or cancellation of your Subscription Services, we may immediately deactivate or delete your Website membership and all related information and/or bar any further access by you to the Website.”

      Hope this helps you make a decision,
      Sarah

      Reply
  6. I was actually a paid member for several years. But I no longer am, and have had my profile and account 100% deleted.

    What, you might ask?

    Recently, the ‘Admins’ have become so intensely paranoid about their image that they began exercising censorship. One method was by deleting posts in public forum that mentioned other sites, like Facebook, also had things to offer.

    But the straw that broke my back was when the ‘admins’ began rewording postings. They would actually alter people’s posts to reflect their accepted views. That was the end, right then and there.

    This is, of course, my experience, so I can only speak for myself. But I strenuously caution anyone thinking of joining a site that engages in the behavior I experienced…

    Reply
    1. Captain

      Post author

      Thanks for sharing your experiences. The more information available, the better vets can judge for themselves what their best course of action is.

      Reply
  7. Ted Sumner

    Thank you for the heads up. Any site that doesn’t tell you up front about the fee is a no go in my book. I was leery to begin with, which is why I googled the site and found you.
    I’ve got your site bookmarked now.
    Thanks again.

    Reply

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