TroopScore in Huff Post: Letting Veterans Set the Standard was recently profiled in the Huffington Post. The article focused on how we’re giving veterans and their families a tool to rate and review the care and service they receive and that impacts them across their life after service.

Vets and families can join TroopScore for free and rate colleges and universities, VA and private healthcare, employment services, businesses and corporations — even elected officials.

Here’s the article:

As the Veteran Affairs system faces a major overhaul, this Asheville, North Carolina veteran-owned startup is poised to help.

When 45 year-old former combat engineer Aaron Sanders met 32 year-old former combat medic Brandon Sirois in early 2015 at an entreprenuership bootcamp at LSU, they realized they not only lived 20 minutes away from each other, they were both passionate about the dire lack of transparency in public and private services for veterans.

There was no single trusted place for vets to go and help each other navigate and access a standard that was from veterans and related to healthcare and benefits. The VA system even inadvertently acknowledged the importance of ratings and feedback after leadership was pressured from members of Congress and the public to release its internal ratings of 146 medical centers. In some instances, these ratings revealed gross inefficiencies and multiple failures to treat veterans at an acceptable standard of care.

“Making providers better is the answer, but it starts with listening to veterans and their families, and then improving their experience and engagement, ” says Sanders, who served in Afghanistan. “The VA is making strides in this area, but at the veteran and family level we quickly saw that a standard of trust was missing.”

Recognizing a mutual spirit for social entrepreneurship, the two decided to join forces. They sat down and started to sketch out and discuss ideas for a website they envisioned as a “a cross between Amazon Reviews and the Better Business Bureau.” This tool would let veterans rate and review organizations across the country, and provide critical feedback to improve the veteran experience and outcomes for larger systems such as the VA. The idea was to let vets see what other vets are saying after they quickly navigate the search for a specific resource, such as a home loan provider, training program, college opportunity, or health clinic in their area.

In turn, the tool would also give real-time feedback to VA centers, clinics, and other service providers. Studies show that 92% of consumers now read online reviews, up from 88% in 2014. Having a third-party online platform verifying consumer experiences helps improve the authority of a business or organization. And if the 80/20 rule is correct, in most cases, these businesses are spending 80% of their time on 20% of their customer base. That means, they’re not gathering crucial data and feedback from the rest of the customer base they need to succeed.

Sanders and Sirois quickly realized during beta development that the implications of this reviews system reached well beyond a simple star rating: it could be a way to provide valuable, helpful, up-to-the-minute data to service providers, too. “This could be a win-win for both veterans and the people who care and serve them,” explained Sirois.

“It’s all about communication. Open communication leads to improvement,” says Sirois. Sirois served in Iraq as a medic and various positions as a frontline healthcare provider afterwards, and is particularly dedicated to improving how vets access and navigate healthcare and benefits. “And transparency leads to accountability.”

As Sirois and Sanders worked on platform development, the review and feedback tool received its official name: TroopScore. became the first ratings and feedback platform dedicated to all of the systems that impact veteran life—not just the VA. The web app works on any device, and empowers veterans, military members, and their families to help one another by being able to rate services and organizations. The entrepreneurs envision this first product becoming a trusted family-to-family and vet-to-vet online knowledgebase and community, a way to ‘pass a hand and arm signal’ back. Reflecting their commitment to the community, TroopScore membership is always free to vets and family members.

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