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Accenture FedPulse survey looks for ways to engage veterans

BY Rob Starr, Big4.com Content Manager

 With more than 200,000 individuals leaving the U.S. armed forces each year and transitioning to civilian life in mind,  the latest Accenture Federal Services’ FedPulse survey asked about the types of digital tools the federal government could provide to help facilitate the move. Shawn D. Roman,  Managing Director and Client Account Lead, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, helped us understand how mobile apps and other factors play a role.

  1. Why are new digital technologies so important to veterans transitioning back to civilian life?
    • Veterans transitioning from service to civilian life experience many challenges including lack of structure, sense of isolation, difficulty finding civilian employment, adjusting to routines established in their absence, re-establishing interpersonal connections and addressing the many health issues – both big and small – that may result from their time in the military. The process of overcoming these challenges can be expedited with the help of technologies like mobile apps for behavioral health, career counseling and financial education. Digital tools can help equip ex-military personnel with the skills and resources necessary for a smooth transition to civilian life.
  2. Why did a career development app score so highly in the survey?
    • The fact that two-thirds of citizens ranked career development resources as a top three tool that federal government could provide to veterans is not all that surprising. Finding meaningful employment continues to be a significant challenge for service personnel making the transition to civilian life. While these individuals possess a wide array of transferrable skills in areas like technology and leadership, they may not understand how to apply or articulate these strengths in a non-military context. With many having
      Shawn D. Roman

      Shawn D. Roman

      been in the military for their entire professional careers, veterans need support with tasks such as resume building and interview preparation. Mobile technologies like a career development app offer new ways to reach these individuals and provide them with easy access to the resources they need to succeed professionally.

  3. How does virtual life skills training tie in?
    • While in the military, veterans often miss out on opportunities to learn certain skills, such as how to plan for their financial future, obtain a loan or invest. For this reason, life skills training may be extremely beneficial for veterans who are making the transition from service to civilian life. Nearly half of survey respondents, agreed that federal government should provide veterans with a mobile app for life skills training. Veterans may not have the time or luxury to physically attend classes or training seminars, but can easily access such services through use of a personal computer or mobile device.
  4. Why is a mental health app so far down the list?
    • Surprisingly, only 30 percent of survey respondents ranked behavioral health apps as a top-three tool that the federal government could provide veterans – and only 9% named it as their number one priority. While mental health is certainly top-of-mind for transitioning service personnel, respondents may believe that other tools – such as life skills training and career development resources – will have a greater impact on the wellbeing of veterans by resolving some of the underlying issues (unemployment, homelessness, etc.) that contribute to mental illness.
  5. Are there generational or gender differences that should be noted?
    • Interestingly, twice as many Millennials as Baby Boomers ranked behavioral health apps for veterans as a top priority for the federal government. Additionally, 41 percent of Baby Boomers versus 30 percent of the overall population ranked career development resources highest among all tools that the federal government could provide. While both men (66 percent) and women (67 percent) agree that career development tools are important, more men (36 percent) than women (24 percent) ranked educational roadmap apps as a top priority.
  6. What’s in the future?
    • As in the commercial world, mobile apps are increasingly taking hold in the public sector. Today, digital tools exist to help address the issues raised by our survey, such as a mobile app that allows veterans suffering from PTSD to contact a counselor directly. Going forward, we will undoubtedly see mobile technologies playing a much bigger role in how veteran organizations support and engage with former service personnel. In order to develop these next-generation digital tools and services, we expect public sector organizations to increasingly apply the principles of design thinking, where the design process is rooted in a deep understanding of end user’s needs, generated through rapid prototyping, constant feedback and experimentation. Bringing design thinking to public service will deliver quick, effective and agile results to the benefit of citizens.

 

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