You’re an Army veteran in Essex County looking to find the state and federal benefits you are entitled to. You’re a female, minority Navy vet in Bergen County who needs family services. Or maybe you’re a disabled Marine Corps veteran in Sussex County who needs therapy and rehabilitation. Is there one place that you could go for reliable information?
Well, actually, Roger.Vet, a new database initiative from Verona veteran Brett D’Alessandro and Alexa Modero, his co-founder of the homeless veterans’ charity Backpacks For Life. “We’ve been working on it for four years,” says D’Alessandro, who graduated Verona High School with the class of 2010. “There are an abundance of resources for veterans but they are hard to find.”
The pair’s goal was to make sure that veterans can easily access the right resources for their situation in as few clicks as possible, whether from a computer or their phone. That’s why visitors to Roger.Vet are directed to a screener that lets them specify where they live in New Jersey–by zip code or county–and what they need. Since some programs may be limited by income or family size or available only to veterans of certain branches of service, the veterans can specify that too. Every resource in the database has been–pardon the expression–vetted by D’Alessandro and Modero to ensure that it effectively delivers the services it promises to provide. There are almost 350 resources in Roger.Vet now and it is on its way to 500.
Veterans aren’t the only ones who might benefit from Roger.Vet. The site can also help veterans service organizations (VSOs) to get the right inquiries for their services. Each listing tells what the organization does, where it is located and how to contact it, whether by phone, email or social media. “It frees up a lot of time for VSOs,” Modero says.
Roger.Vet is completely free to use for both veterans and VSOs, thanks to private donations and grants. It is limited to New Jersey resources for now, but D’Alessandro and Modero hope to expand it to other states and add more features, like a dashboard that will allow veterans to track their interactions with the different organizations.
D’Alessandro and Modero have been talking up Roger.Vet online and in their interactions with veterans, VSOs and other service providers. Modero is a chapter leader for Bunker Labs‘ programs out of Newark and she teaches entrepreneurship to veterans and military spouses at New York University’s NYU Tandon Future Labs. Says D’Alessandro, “We’ve got to get veterans the resources they need when they need them.”