For that question, everything. One word gives the mind a window into what a brand is, means, and stands for. For the little rag tag group of veterans, it was coming down to what we would call our little venture.
It all started because of a Facebook post I was tagged in and then brought into a group conversation between three combat veterans, of whom I had served with. They needed a “tech guy” and I was supposed to be that guy. What came after is a long story, over 5 years, and with things moving into a direction I never thought possible.
Destroyed records. Lost appointments. Complacency in an organization created to support the men and women who are willing to sacrifice everything in support of a calling higher than themselves. Citizens expressing outrage at the horrendous treatment of their veterans. Sound bites on news shows. Interview after interview of what NEEDS to be done. The bigger question is - what HAS been done?
In life, sometimes you can take three steps forward and two steps back. Progress is made, albeit slowly, but it happens nonetheless. With the Department of Veterans Affairs experiencing between $1 billion to $2 billion in cuts, the people who have sworn to protect this nation are being left out to dry, while other programs absorb plenty of money.
The issue all of us face, no matter sergeant or major, master sergeant or lieutenant, the Department of Defense and the VA haven’t created a robust transition program to truly prepare us for what lies outside our roles in uniform, and a thorough analysis as well as supporting platform can change all of that.
Many of the Veterans Service Organizations (VSOs) have outlined plans for what needs to be done. Sure, some legislation gets passed here and there, but ultimately, what is actually being done to change the underlying infrastructure of the bureaucracy?
With the troves of information, a platform incorporating data from the social graph and measured analytics will help important agencies like the Department of Veterans Affairs and other large government organizations, as well as law enforcement entities from the top down, better help their people. As a result, they will provide a better experience and in the case of health, better patient outcomes and care for their users.
With healthcare a major issue now and in 2016, examining the effects the ACA has and will have is crucial to certain groups in the population, of which veterans are a large focus. No matter the opinion on the law as a whole, there are pieces beneficial to veterans, mostly in the form of requiring medical records across the country to become digitized.
Transitioning from active duty to law enforcement or other employment in even the nonprofit and private sectors means skills and expertise developed while serving are critical in reducing hours and money spent having to retake classes or get credentialed/certified for the gaining companies. This is where we come in.
What has been lingering over all my discussions with professionals about changing troubled digital infrastructure or helping improve the situations for minority groups like veterans is the looming shadow of the status quo. Ultimately, how do you change a deeply entrenched and corrupt system?
Today I spent some time pondering my LinkedIn profile and how many connections I had. On my usual commute from work to home, approximately an hour at times, I decided to call one of my friends who’s an OEF veteran. Our discussion revolved around the endorsements someone receives on LinkedIn related to some skill or measure of expertise.