Transitioning out of the military into civilian life should be an exciting new chapter in the lives of service members. However, studies show that of the nearly 200,000 personnel who leave the U.S. military each year, 30% leave with no job and 71% don’t sign up for VA benefits.
A non-profit organization is trying to change that by combining resources and facilitating supportive communities to help transitioning veterans and their families through a program called Onward Ops.
The Onward Ops program takes a different approach from other efforts to support transitioning service members by building a human connection between service members and a sponsor from the destination community they intend to live in, according to Mike Eastman, executive director for the ETS Sponsorship Program, the organization behind Onward Ops.
Eastman outlined the core elements of Onward Ops in a recent panel discussion, produced by Scoop News Group, and underwritten by Google for Government which involves building relationships between a service member and their sponsor while they’re still wearing the uniform and regardless of where they are deployed. Establishing this relationship early on can alleviate pressure during transition by allowing direct connection to information and community that the service member and their family need.
“One of the things that we are really excited about — based on the capabilities we have with Google Workspace is introducing risk screening into our process,” explained Eastman. By identifying those that are in most need of assistance, through Workspace they can get connected with intake specialists and mental health providers.
“Rather than spread limited resources broadly, we can focus it on where it can have the most impact,” he said.
Mike Houlihan, director for Workspace with Google Public Sector and an ETS sponsor himself, joined the conversation to share how the collaboration platform improves the efficacy of Onward Ops’ mission.
“The technology is actually the easy part,” he said, saying that the tools Google has already developed can be leveraged in unique ways to achieve the mission goals of the Onward Ops program.
Houlihan pointed to tools that add value, such as Google Maps, which shows where soldiers eventually end up, Google Wallet, which provides gift cards or access to funds, and data analysis with AI and ML tools to provide additional services back to those transitioning service members on the communal front.
Watch the full discussion to learn more about the Onward Ops program and learn more about how to become a sponsor. Also hear from other government leaders about ways their agencies are Accelerating the Mission with Artificial Intelligence.
This video panel discussion was produced by Scoop News Group for DefenseScoop and FedScoop, and underwritten by Google for Government.