Katie Peterson | Staff Writer
Soldiers of all ranks, as well as retirees and veterans, are openly sharing their stories on the “Freestyle Everyday (For Everybody)” Facebook page.
“It’s just people’s personal experiences who just happen to be 99 percent serving and wearing the uniform,” said page founder Command Sgt. Maj. Mark Haliburton, 40th Military Police Battalion (Detention). “The concept behind the page is nothing doctrine related. … It is based off our experience and our understanding of our personal examples that people can relate to.”
Haliburton said he first got the idea for the page when he was attending the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy in 2017.
“Every Friday I would sit on my porch, and I would basically come up with the concept of speaking positivity through music, through literature, through free ideas,” Haliburton said. “It grew traction and people started tuning in.
“When I got to Fort Leavenworth, my videos became circulated amongst my social media friends and were shared numerous times and then people started to really watch them,” he said. “One day some buddies and I were talking and said, ‘You should start a page … and allow people to go on and post their videos of positivity and things of that nature.’”
That’s what Haliburton did. The “Freestyle Everyday (For Everybody)” Facebook page launched on March 21 and has since caught the attention of more than 6,000 service members of various ranks all over the world. Haliburton said he has an idea why.
“Most pages on social media tailored to military are basically segregated, meaning you must have a certain rank or a certain title or certain experiences to be associated with it,” Haliburton said. “I’m absolutely humbled that we have created a platform where our junior soldiers can basically interact with senior leaders across the Army. They are ranging from general officers and nominative command sergeants major who are part of this group, and they can interact, and they can talk and discuss in an open manner.”
Not only did the page gain a following, but it has inspired other soldiers to create their own platforms like 1st Sgt. Alberto Pena, U.S. Army Brooklyn South Army Recruiting Company, New York City Recruiting Battalion, who began an Instagram live program called “Mentorship Friday.”
“I talk a lot when it comes to motivation and leadership and seeing (Haliburton’s) Facebook page pretty much inspired me,” Pena said. “If he can do it, and he has so much courage and confidence to come on and dance, why can’t I do it?”
Haliburton was Pena’s first guest on “Mentorship Friday” May 8.
“There’s a lot of (noncommissioned officers) out there that I think took a lot from it, to hear from somebody outside of recruiting or somebody who has a different perspective, different Army story from theirs,” Pena said of his conversation with Haliburton. “In my opinion, (Haliburton) is leveraging technology, and he is meeting the intent of today’s times.
“People grow and change. Technology changed the way people absorb information, and I think he is leveraging technology to help people absorb information and mentorship and leadership in a different platform,” he said. “He puts out so much good information that is inspiring and motivating and that’s easier to connect with.”
Haliburton expanded the page more with the first “Freestyle Night” May 8, which brings junior and senior leaders together and highlights their stories.
Spc. Nathan Ronczyk, 526th Military Police Company, 40th MP Battalion, was the first guest on May 8.
“For me personally, it was nerve wracking because I’m a quiet person, and I believe me doing this and him giving me the opportunity to go talk with all these people really gave me the the opportunity to step out of my bubble and become more free in talking and giving advice and sharing experiences,” Ronczyk said. “A lot of NCOs commented and messaged me and gave me advice and told me that I’m doing a good job and to keep up the good work.
“It was very inspirational and more of a helping hand,” he said. “It’s a lot better than trying to figure out everything on your own. … You’re not alone. You’ve got support.”
The program has expanded to include other topics including “Unmuted” and “Real Talk.” “Freestyle Everyday (For Everybody)” can be followed on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.