In late 2008, Admiral Mike Mullen, 17th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, brought forth mounting evidence that service members transitioning out of the military after duty in Iraq and Afghanistan were not receiving adequate assistance necessary to ensure successful reintegration into civilian life.
Admiral Mullen pointed to the overwhelming maze of benefits available to these individuals through the Veterans Administration and Department of Defense (healthcare, education, housing and employment among others) combined with the myriad of opportunities for private sector assistance, as the root cause of this problem. Since 2001, tens of thousands of nonprofit organizations have sprung up to help servicemen and their families, which Admiral Mullen calls the “Sea of Goodwill”. Many of these programs however, are isolated and lack recognition, proper scrutiny and evaluation. Moreover, it is often challenging for a veteran to determine which services meet his/her specific need(s) and are geographically accessible. Furthermore, there were no opportunities for veterans to evaluate, in a public forum, the services offered by these non-profit organizations and government agencies.
In 2008, while on a trip together, General Charles Boyd, USAF (Ret.) and Admiral Michael Mullen, USN (Ret.) discussed the challenges faced by veterans in their civilian transition. During Admiral Mullen’s town hall visits as the 17th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, he was often asked by military family members, "Where do I go for help?" Admiral Mullen and General Boyd, on this trip, seeded the idea to create a tool to answer this question.
After many months of exploration and development, the American Heroes Project was formed to connect the military community to resources in their local community. On June 1st, 2009, the first hire, Devin B. Holmes was brought in to lead the project and the non-profit Warrior Gateway Inc was born. The question "Where do I go for help?" was expanded to include four critical questions:
- Where do I go for help?
- How do I know if it is any good?
- Where are the gaps?
- How do we get the information out there in a timely and relevant manner?
In March 2010, Warrior Gateway was launched as a web portal with a searchable resource directory by keyword and geographic location that continues to grow and expand today. New features and continued development has helped Warrior Gateway grow into the best virtual community center for servicemembers and veterans available today.
Our culture nurtures innovation. With the launch of Warrior Gateway, the team learned a consolidated directory that could be displayed on partner websites would be the most efficient way to deliver information to the military community. By building an application program interface (API), our partners would have the ability to disseminate the same resource directory information as other veteran service organizations. Out of this discovery a new product was created, the G.I. Network.
During the course of 2011, the technology for the G.I. Network was developed and in 2012, it was launched as a beta initiative to a small number of partners. It has been growing ever since and Version 2 of the G.I. Network launched in early 2013.
Based on feedback from our users, Military Family Gateway was developed and launched in 2014. Catering to the unique needs of the military family, Military Family Gateway's virtual community center is equipped with information to help members get the best of what they need in a secure and safe environment – from validated sources. This includes job opportunities; a military focused resource directory; new features in the works include forums with “how-to’s” by subject matter experts and common FAQ’s; a virtual PX to sell and buy used goods and a meet-up function to facilitate play-dates, military spouse dinners and more. Military Family Gateway’s online community stays with its members, providing the opportunity to meet and communicate with others before, during and after their family member’s deployment.
Warrior Gateway Inc. (Federal EIN 45-2157711) is an IRS registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.