Unite US: Tech platform helps veterans adjust to civilian life
Using interactive mapping technology, Unite US connects military veterans with resources to transition into life after the uniform.
Fri, Nov 08, 2013 at 04:02 PM
On Nov. 11, the United States will observe Veterans Day to honor and celebrate the men and women who have served their country in the various branches of the military. The calendar may say that this holiday comes once a year, but every day is Veterans Day on a new tech platform called Unite US.
Founded earlier this year by three veterans and a civilian military supporter, Unite US is a hyperlocal community-management platform that helps active and former members of the U.S. military adjust to civilian life. Though interactive mapping technology, users can connect with and discover resources, supporters and fellow veterans within their local communities. Dan Brillman, CEO and founder of the company, drew his inspiration for Unite US from his own experience as an Air Force reservist.
"As a reservist, I serve a lot, but I also live as a civilian," Brillman told BusinessNewsDaily. "Transitioning veterans would come to me with questions about life after the uniform. I didn't have answers for them, but I did know that the people who do have answers are out there. It's just a matter of accessing them, and through technology, we could create an ecosystem that allows for streamlined communication between military communities."
In 2012, Brillman began working on a holistic study of what military members need in order to adjust to civilian life. Based on this study, the goal of Unite US was to partner with various local organizations to help veterans find military-friendly schools, job opportunities, health care and other resources right where they live through Google's interactive maps. Along with Marine Corps veteran Kareem Elsirafy, West Point graduate and Army veteran Taylor Justice, and military supporter Andrew Price, Brillman began fundraising to create Unite US in January and launched a beta version this summer. Today (Nov. 7), the full version was launched, granting a much wider network of veterans and their families access to its more than 4,000 partner organizations.
"We're transforming the way people interact with and discover things in their community," Brillman said. "We use Google Maps to connect them to resources that can assist them throughout their lives as civilians. They need to know who and what are driving involvement for them in their communities."
One of the biggest developmental challenges the Unite US team faced was trying to tie all of their goals into one platform.
"I wish we could say we're just like Match.com, but we do so much more than that," Brillman explained. "We're trying to solve a lot of different issues — unemployment, post-traumatic stress disorder, health care, etc. — using technology, and the problem was integrating those features into one core technology."
Unite US isn't just for veterans, of course. As its tagline — "Find a resource | Be a resource" — suggests, the platform also provides community-management software for organizations that help military members. These organizations are able to broadcast and manage their services right on the platform, getting their names out there to the veterans they aim to serve.
Brillman's advice to entrepreneurs is to make sure everyone on your team is on the same page and ready to deal with any difficulties that may occur in the process.
"You're always going to hit obstacles; it's all about how you deal with them," he said. "In the startup world, you never know when they'll hit, or what they're going to be. You have to manage your team so that everyone understands the game plan for tackling obstacles when they arise."
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