The VA is doing more and more to give homeless vets a hand. The move is part of the larger government-wide effort to end veterans homelessness in the next two years, and comes at a time when most federal programs are tightening their belts in an effort to deal with sharp reductions in funding. More on the homelessness efforts here and on the VA site here.
Photo Credit: U.S. Dept of Veteran Affairs
For disability compensation, they've deployed something like TurboTax for veterans. It appears to be decently user-friendly, adjusted for the way that vets and veteran service orgs (VSOs) really operate. The software also accounts for all the laws and regulations, the rules that VA has gotta follow to write checks.A vet would start up eBenefits, online, click on "Apply for Disability Compensation" and go. It's mostly drop-down menus, and many data fields get filled in automatically. It's way easier and faster than paper forms. (More about self-service for disability claims processing here… and here.)
The VBA workers are doing a whole lot for vets. Most of the workers are on the VA medical side, but there's also a group that processes benefits payments for vets. That's the Veterans Benefits Administration–VBA–and they work on over a million disability claims from vets each year. They deserve a lot more thanks than they're getting.
VBMS development involved a lot of waterfall stuff, but much more recently, VA people are actually directly listening to people on that and acting on that. If vets, VSOs, or VA workers find a problem or have a suggestion, they contact contact actual humans to get stuff done. (A little more on my big idea for 2014 and how to fix Washington's approach to tech…)
They've been working hard to get the paper claims inventory converted to digits and put into VBMS, which involves scanning huge amounts of paper into the system. That's about 80% done. (You can view before and after photos here.)
The Department of Veterans Affairs is doing some really good stuff for vets that no one hears about, catching up since 2009. I've helped, in a very minor way for several years, now I gotta do more, for VA, military families, and vets.
What do you appreciate about the VA? And what are you hoping they'll begin to work on in 2014?
Folks, I've been supporting the CrowdRise #HolidayChallenge this season by giving $75k to the campaign. Nonprofits nationwide have been participating to raise money for their causes.
Right now, $1,655,270 and counting has been raised, excluding the money I donated. This is huge. I think we'll be able to raise even more by the end of the challenge on January 9th. If you're able, I'd really encourage you to support your favorite causes.
Bonus Challenge #4 was a Rock, Paper, Scissors match between the first two teams to raise $250 each day that week. The winner got $1500 and the loser got 4 Verizon Droid Minis (some are using 'em as prizes for their own supporters which is so great). The winners are listed first:
And, the final Bonus Challenge #7 starts on Monday, January 6th at 2pm ET. The team that gets the greatest number of donations between then and the end of the Challenge, January 9th at 11:59:59am ET gets $6000 for their cause.
Hey folks. I get asked by organizations how they can promote their issues better online. Sometimes creating videos can make a big impact. Anyways, here are some of the best viral videos of 2013 that tackle some important issues and a couple that might be intolerantly cute.
1. Code.org: What Most Schools Don't Teach
Bill Gates of Microsoft, Bronwen Grimes of Valve, Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, Ruchi Sanghvi of Dropbox, and others talk about how learning to code is a lot like learning to play an instrument or a new sport. Coding is not about being a genius. It’s about solving problems and every industry relies on technology.
2. Homeless Veteran Timelapse Transformation
Real powerful video showing the transformation of U.S. Army veteran Jim Wolf who has faced poverty, homelessness, and alcoholism.
3. Pantene: Shine Strong
Sheryl Sandberg said it best. “This is one of the most powerful videos I have ever seen illustrating how when women and men do the same things, they are seen in completely different ways. Really worth watching. Lean In prize of the day for sure!”
This also does a good job combining social good plus advertising, much like the Dove body image ones that Ogilvy did maybe five years ago.
4. Goldieblox Princess Machine
As a nerd who also has five nieces it’s real important that young girls have toys that teach building skills and inspire the next generation of female engineers.
Batkid is the real deal. 5-year-old Miles who was battling Leukemia was granted a wish by Make-A-Wish to meet Batman in Gotham. Watching San Francisco shut down to make his wish happen was pretty special.
(the Winston-Salem VARO before and after pictures, showing VBMS kicking in for real…)
The Dept of Veterans Affairs does a lot of different things for vets. Most of the workers are on the VA medical side, but there's also a group that processes benefits payments for vets. That's the Veterans Benefits Administration–VBA–and they work on over a million claims from vets each year. They work hard but get a lot of crap. So this is for them…
Okay, folks, I've seen you get the job done, with lots of extra hours, that's appreciated!
Next steps involve lots more use of VMBS to get stuff done, those photos illustrates that around 75% of the claims inventory has gotten online. It also means getting VSOs involved, which also means connecting outside software like VetPro connected to VBMS via Digits to Digits, D2D.
This is in my role as "nerd-in-residence" at the VA Center for Innovation. (That's my designated term, I know who I am, and have a sense of humor.) (For Washington, I'm funny; granted that's a low bar.) (The wife reminds me that I'm not as funny as I think I am.)