A Horrible Reminder that Military Families Must be Careful

Yesterday, I received several emails aboutthe tragic murder of Navy spouse, Shana Hight. Shana'shusband was deployed when she was killed.

The details of this senseless crime have yet to be publicly revealed. It's unclear why Shana was murdered, or if there are any suspects. Having said that, this tragedy did make me pause to consider the dark side of social media for military families.Apparently, Shana wasn't a blogger, but she did use twitter.

In May, I participated in a social media panel at MOAA's Spouse Summit. One of the topics of discussion centered on the benefits and drawbacks of milspouses using pseudonyms, or their real names, on social media channels.

Of course, it's an individual preference, but I held the view that it's understandable why so many milspouses choose not to use their real names, or their full names. For one, our spouses are gone. A lot. Advertising your full name, location and that you're alone may not be the wisest course of action because some people are actively looking for a window of opportunity which will allow them to prey on milspouses. Another reason may be that milspouses fear they can't be open about the touchier side of military life if their peers could stumble across their blog or twitter page. So again, I understand the decision many milspouses make to blog, tweet and comment semi-anonymously, or even anonymously.

I'm not suggesting that Shana's death was in any way connected to something she published on the web.Not at all. In fact, her twitter history looks very benign. But as I stated previously, when I read that she was murdered while her husband was deployed, it made me think about how important it is for us to carefully choose which bits of information strangers can access. There have been numerous examples of scammers targeting military families lately. If a General and his wife can be affected, it can certainly happen to any of us. Take precautions to limit your chances of becoming the victim of a scam. Or worse, a physical attack.

Just be careful — and smart — out there….

Shana, may you Rest in Peace.

UPDATE: Fantastic articles in Reader's Digest: 13 Things a Burglar Won't Tell Youand 8 More Things a Burglar Won't Tell You.

About the Author


Andi is married to an active-duty soldier and is the founder and former editor of SpouseBUZZ.

She is the founder of the Annual MilBlog Conference. The MilBlog Conference is the premiere event of the year for military bloggers. President George W. Bush, U.S. Representative Adam Smith, GEN David Petraeus, LTG Mike Oates, LTG William Caldwell, RADM Mark Fox, MG Kevin Bergner, MG David Hogg and The Honorable Pete Geren have addressed previous conferences.

While living in Washington, DC, Andi was the Ambassador to Walter Reed Army Medical Center for Sew Much Comfort, a non-profit organization which makes and delivers, free of charge, special adaptive clothing for wounded service members. Andi has worked with several non-profits to help our wounded heroes and their families. She finds that work to be the most rewarding and meaningful of all.

Andi strives to find humor in the good, bad and ugly of life and is a firm believer that laughter has the ability to cure most ills.

  • Hello,
    I wish the same for Shana.
    If you don’t mind, I would like to offer an opinion about psuedo-names. In the past, I would have suggested psuedonames or nicknames when surfing but my opinion differs now.
    Psuedonames also allows “harassment” and “bullying”, and it is becoming more of a problem. I believe we citizens need to be held more accountable for our comments and actions online. The use of a real name forces extremely honest discourse.
    On the other hand, I appreciate safety. If needed, I suggest you use your firewall to “log” connections. Also, lobby social sites to “log” communication IP’s. If you run into a “scary” situation, do a “ctrl+s” (Windows) or “cmd+s” (Mac) and save as a Web source. Later, do a right mouse click and open with a text editor to see the conversation.
    Also, you should save the the file as a “raw” source as well because this can be used by law enforcement to discover IP addresses.
    In truth, police have a means to quickly track IP addresses because industry is quite helpful in that situation.
    The above site is a nice collaboration between industry, academia, and government and they supply many free documents. If you contact them, they would probably help you create a “white paper” for milspouses!
    Have a nice day!

  • Thanks for the post you inspired my blog post this week. Be safe everyone. Hopefully I am being a safe enough spouse :) there is always room for improvement.

  • Maharet

    there is only one place where i use my real name. that’s for friends and family only. everywhere else it’s my online ID and friends family (other than my sister) don’t have that online ID. not that i do anything requiring that kind of paranoia, but i don’t like mixing my worlds together.
    the internet is where i dump my thoughts and no one really needs to know what i’m thinking or doing every minute of the day. sure using your real name might force you to be more polite online, but that’s not worth the trouble that might arise from doing so. I don’t see how logging communications or logging IP addresses will really help(no offense). by the time anyone that can help you track someone down with an IP address it might be too late for you. keep your real life and your online life separate and always know who you’re talking to.
    stay safe.

  • ARNG Wife

    My heart goes out to her family, especially her husband, our soldiers/sailers/maries go away with the concern of something happening to them, not those of us left behind.
    This is my 2-cents: we live in a smaller community, semi-rural. I remember when GI Joe deployed the first time, the unit invited spokesmen from the local pd, sheriff & local “big city” pd to talk with us. We were offered the chance to be put on designated routes of the pd/sheriffs. Also they spoke of several things, esp. the larger area, to consider not doing: if we did not already have a blue star or yellow ribbon up, to not add them to our house/apartment, also the “1/2 my heart is …” stickers/magnants on the car. To try to vary the vehicle we drive (or at least move them around), if we had more than one, etc. I admit, not being married to an active duty service member I had not even thought about it. But they had discovered that these things had led to burgleries & property damage in the past. (Thank goodness nothing as tragic as this wife!) Since then I have always kept that in mind.

  • Springfield, MO, Res

    Please, ladies and gentlemen, heed the advice being given with this post, and be extremely cautious. I attended Ms. Hight’s funeral over the weekend, and don’t want to see any more families have to deal with this kind of tragedy. Yes, I knew her. She was a beautiful person, inside and out, and in no way deserved this horrible ending to her life.

  • Anonymous

    None of this mattered in the end. It was her married military neighbor who she let know her husband was gone that attacked her. Have no doubt the accused and the actual are the same.