Veterans’ Hackathon: Problem Statements and Big Ideas

Veterans’ Hackathon: Problem Statements and Big Ideas


Project Title Problem Big Idea
A General resources that can help veterans thrive Veterans often need extensive help navigating government bureaucracies, securing needed benefits and resources, resolving clinical diagnosis disputes, building a support network, and addressing the daily challenges of civilian life. Online and mobile applications, preferably with embedded AI features, can simplify the process and reduce the time, travel, and expense associated with:

  • Addressing discharge- and treatment-related disputes to ensure they receive needed care
  • Getting timely access to appropriate resources related to housing, job skills, education, employment, etc. – especially if homeless
  • Building and maintaining a network of supportive family, friends, fellow vets, and others to contact in the event of crisis
  • Tracking obligations associated with personal goals (education, job training, etc.) treatment and other support services, meeting requirements imposed by a veterans court, etc.
  • Gaining access to helpful professionals: mediators, attorneys, veterans courts, etc.
The BIG IDEA in this problem set is that online, mobile, and AI technology resources can help veterans secure the benefits to which they are entitled, and to make a successful transition from military to civilian life—without having to change the Dept of Veterans Affairs and other federal agencies first.
Specific resources that address particular issues
i Expanding employment opportunity for veterans


Veterans are a trained, disciplined, valuable human resource in our nation, and 500,000 remain unemployed.

The BIG IDEA is to utilize veterans’ unique skills within a mission driven culture that appeals to their ethos of service, sense of comradery and determination to succeed.
ii Assisting veterans with legal and other challenges


The legal matters that veterans in transition face can be complex and dependent upon related or linked factors.  Many veterans, however, lack the necessary skills and financial resources needed to successfully address and resolve  legal matters and other challenges associated with civilian life. Specific objectives for this problem set include devising a technology stack which helps veterans learn about and resolve common legal or other challenges such as wills, parenting agreements, business or commercial disputes, landlord/tenant disputes, etc.

The BIG IDEA in this problem set is that veterans can take a leading role in resolving their legal and other challenges if they have access to plain language information, an intuitive online or mobile platform for reaching agreements, and access to helping professionals (like attorneys and mediators.)


Making Discharge Review Board (DRB) hearings easier to attend


Many veterans have been blocked from receiving treatment, education and other benefits because PTSD was not weighed before they received an undesirable discharge. Recent policy allows Discharge Review Boards to remedy these situations. Veterans seeking a discharge review must, at considerable expense to themselves, attend a DRB hearing, which is almost exclusively held in Washington D.C. The goal in this problem set is to develop effective strategies that allow veterans, their attorney, and DRB members to exchange information critical to their investigation and attend DRB hearings remotely. All DRB participants will need access to private remote conferencing resources, and the DRB hearings must be archived and reviewable once a decision is made.

The BIG IDEA is to build an AV platform for remote personal appearances before the DRB, that allows the veteran to submit a list of issues, provide documentary evidence to support their claim, and seek clemency as appropriate.
iv Veterans and homelessness


Many veterans are severe risk of becoming, or already are, homeless. The impact of homelessness can be seen in the critical nature of the numerous legal and financial decisions that must be made, and in the massive disruptions it creates in the veteran’s ability to maintain relationships with family or friends, and get important and timely information regarding emergency shelter, human services and physical or mental health treatment options. be made when avoiding, or transitioning, into or out of homelessness.

The BIG IDEA is an app to aid decision making, identify essential resources and find veteran-specific assistance before and during homelessness.
v Veteran’s Health Administration Clinical Disputes


The process for appealing clinical decisions lacks a mediation process proposed by recent VHA guidance.  An online process would save travel time for veterans living far from VHA facilities and potentially benefit VHA staff schedules or travel.

The BIG IDEA is an online mediation process for patients and their treatment teams, that supports an expedited review, and promotes a mutual interest path to an external review when needed.


Mental Health Treatment


Veterans struggling with TBI, MST, PTSD and other mental health disorders may be reluctant to seek help, distrust the help they find or lack confidence in its processes.

The BIG IDEA is to devise an online interactive process to anonymously access targeted resources, obtain counselling, join support groups, test validity, build confidence and weigh the pros and cons of victim-reporting in cases of MST.
 vii Veterans in Transition


Members in transition face many decisions when returning to civilian life, which can be complex and are dependent upon many more related and linked decisions.  This can overwhelm the veteran, and stall or derail a successful transition.

The BIG IDEA is to create a virtual post-separation assistant to better present the vast array of detailed and complex transition resources together in an easy to understand way that can be intuitively navigated and actioned.
viii VA Claims


Veterans are not receiving their Claims Folder (C-File) from the VA so that they can review and ensure the accuracy of the information being used by the Rating Veterans Service Representative to decide claims.

The BIG IDEA is to develop an online process for the veteran to access and download their C-File, and submit additional evidence requested by the VA.


Veterans helping refugees establish a digital identity
  • More than 65 million people are on the move or trapped in designated refugee camps around the world. As nations fear the spread of terrorism and economic and social disruption, these individuals can be trapped for years awaiting the successful conclusion of more and less “extreme” vetting processes.


  • Many United States veterans are already trained in counterinsurgency techniques, and would welcome an opportunity to apply their skills in ways that benefit our country and the global economy.


The internet community can create global standards for helping displaced persons establish validated identities, confirm their status vis-a-vis terrorist activities, and gain access to worldwide economic growth and development during their tenure in refugee camps. Specific objectives for this problem set include devising a technology stack which delivers vetting, assured identities, financial inclusion, job skills, training, assistance in securing sustainable employment, and links people to helping professionals such as attorneys, mediators, employers, etc.

The BIG IDEA in this problem set is that veterans with counterinsurgency skills can contribute to national security and global commerce, and provide valuable assistance to those housed in refugee camps by using online, mobile, and AI technology resources to help displaced persons prove their identity and secure sustainable employment.
 C Expand access to and effectiveness of Veteran’s Treatment Courts Many Veteran’s Treatment Courts (VTC) lack extensive staff to provide one-on-one assistance to every individual, and others must provide services throughout a large geographical region. A-synchronous communication between the veteran and VTC personnel can increase the efficiency and effectiveness of exchanging important information, allow a veteran’s questions to be answered timely, help veterans update their case worker frequently, and reduce the need to force veterans to travel long distances, or pay VTC staff to travel between remote locations. The BIG IDEA is to develop an online VTC process that can reduce the need for court staff or veterans to travel to remote locations, and help the veteran remain in close contact with their case manager.