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’s 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 of Veterans 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 generally resulted in PTSD and often in Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), with the common symptom of paranoia and depression. We had to first find vets that met the very specific criteria of the case, and create a pathway that would allow these vets with intense paranoia to trust us with their social security number, medical records, and the story of their attack.

To succeed, we had to develop an empathy-driven machine learning model to engage 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.  Ultimately, we successfully engaged thousands of veterans, developed communities of care, and helped empower these vets to take the fight to the financial institutions that ensured the terrorists stayed funded.

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 hundreds of sign-ups from organic traffic.  But our greatest accomplishment were the letters our case workers received from veterans who told us they had found a community and new mission that gave them something to live for again.