Defense Web site assists Pentagon attack victims' families

The Defense Department has launched a special password-protected Web site for families of the people killed or wounded in the Sept. 11 terrorist attack on the Pentagon. The establishment of the "United in Memory" family Web site "was discussed at the Pentagon family assistance center in the days after the attack on the Pentagon," said John M. Molino, deputy assistant secretary of Defense for military community and family policy. "We knew that we would need some mechanism to have long-term communications with the families, and the Web site just was a natural" outcome, Molino said during an American Forces Information Service interview. He noted that, to accompany activation of the Web site, Defense had sent letters listing access procedures and available services to the victims' families. He said the mailed letters let them know the address of the Web site and gave them their user ID and password. Molino emphasized that access to the "United in Memory" Web site, which contains myriad useful information about donations, attack memorials, foundations, resources and related external web links, is restricted to family members of the victims of the Pentagon attack. The restriction protects the privacy of the family members. Limited access, he added, "allows us to put information on there that might be fitting only for family members to know, and would keep them out of any public scrutiny or public publicity that they would not want otherwise." Molino said people began accessing the "United in Memory" Website from its Dec. 19 startup. "We did begin getting 'hits' before midnight on the 19th. It was pretty pleasing to us to see that people had known it was coming and had been interested enough to go look to see what was there," he remarked. Molino noted that people without a home setup could access the site on a friend's or relative's computer or at an Internet-linked public facility such as a library. He added that Defense would remain in regular communication with, and provide updates to, family members without computers through letters. Molino said some victims' families have started their own Web sites and Internet chat rooms. Defense's "United in Memory" Web site, he noted, links to them. "We don't control the content of those sites, but we do have links so that family members can go to those sites on their own," Molino added.
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