Using Data & Tools To Improve The Lives of America’s Veterans
Public Democracy’s veteran support program (“PDVets”) was created to utilize our unique data tools and partnerships with organizations such as PatriotLink in support of a much deeper understanding and better capacity to meet the needs of America’s veteran community.
PDVets’ platform utilizes proprietary award-winning veteran outreach and behavioral modeling tools to effectively identify and engage veterans across online and mobile channels. This data-driven machine learning initiative has been proven effective at identifying the moments when veterans are most open to engage and pathways that establish trust so vets can get the support they deserve.
Capacity, Capabilities, and Outcomes
Our tools allow us to find the majority of veterans who are online using our own data and proven empathy-driven machine learning that understands their needs and the moments when they are open to engagement.
Mapping veterans’ online behavior, needs, interests, and priorities give us intimate and valuable insights into their lives beyond the walls of their doctor’s office.
The PDVets toolset is built upon a state-of-the-art advertising platform which enables the delivery of targeted, situational, and dynamic ads and content that is delivered to veterans in the specific moments when they will find that communication most valuable.
These tools have a proven track record in effectively bringing isolated veterans into community, providing usable information to veterans and their loved ones, and building enough trust with severely traumatized vets that they were able to be counseled through complicated medical and legal intake processes.
Case Study: Iraq War Fund Anti-Terrorism Lawsuit
Tasked to identify and recruit veterans who were injured in Iraq to join a lawsuit against European banks that laundered money for terrorist groups responsible for their injuries, our initiative was awarded Best in Show for Data & Machine Learning from the Association of Political Consultants.
Injuries that qualiﬁed vets often left them with intense paranoia and depression. We had to first find vets that met the very specific criteria of the case, and then convince these vets with severe PTSD to trust us with their social security number, medical records, and the story of their attack.
To succeed, we engaged our identified community at moments when they were open to this opportunity, walking them through a multi-step journey from awareness to comfort to commitment. Neither Facebook nor Google had enough data to identify both the qualified clients and the pathway necessary to get them to join. We bridged those gaps through massive initial modeling using 600+ data sets, our own lists of millions of veterans, and a human-AI companion loop focused on empathy and connection. It took us nearly a third of our budget to get the first handful of clients to join, but we ultimately engaged with over 10,000 vets who submitted information into our system, with over 3,000 joining the case.
This challenge stymied several of the largest firms in the country. But with our mapping and “data listening” techniques, we successfully identified and engaged with tens of thousands of veterans, dropping the cost-per-join into the low hundreds of dollars. Ultimately, thousands of vets completed the process to join the case, far exceeding our client’s initial target of several hundred.
Perhaps most remarkably, after we turned off the ads, our algorithms had so effectively understood the needs of our target population that the larger internet algorithms learned from us and we continued to get 40+ sign-ups a month from organic traffic. Our greatest accomplishment were the letters our case workers received from veterans who told us they had found a community and a new mission that gave them something to live for again.