The originator of the idea works with homeless veterans out of Skid Row in Los Angeles.

What it does

It brings experts and veterans together in one place to exchange information about applying for disability benefits.

How we built it

We heavily customized an open sourced discussion forum called discourse, to provide a great user experience.

We used open source technologies on our frontend and backend platforms in order to provide a solution as quickly as possible. On the frontend we utilized Javascript and React to create a consistent and well designed user interface and on the backend we implemented Python and Flask to create a consumable REST API.

To fill out the PDF we relied on the Python fdfgen library as well as the PDFTK PDF manipulation tool. With these were able to create FDF files and merge them into the standard VA form PDF.

Challenges we ran into

Narrowing down the number of features to develop during this hackathon.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

Challenging the status quo in order to help fellow veterans, particularly combat veterans.

What we learned

There's nothing like this currently in existence in this space. Other online resources for veterans benefits are focused on getting veterans in-person assistance. This is a radically different approach.

What's next for the Service Connection?

Testing and further developing the prototype with the goal of going live by Veterans Day.

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