Devastating Loss Spurs Vet Group To Create New Social Networking App

“Inspiration is important with every startup,” Anthony Allman tells me about his POS-REP mobile application, which is currently in the final stages of Apple approval. The inspiration, in the former soldier’s case, came from an unlikely avenue: destruction.

In Haiti, Chile, and more recently in the Midwest and New York City, a non-profit group of former military service members known as Team Rubicon have been on the ground providing relief to victims of disasters. One of the most vocal supporters of the group was former Marine turned-volunteer Clay Hunt.

“I cannot tell you how good it feels to be able to go into a rubble-strewn city in a third world country, and to be able to do good without wondering if everybody is about to start shooting at you,” wrote Hunt on the Team Rubicon website. “I found a renewed sense of purpose for myself that has been missing since I separated from the USMC, and I found myself in the company of a band of brothers once again — absolutely priceless.”

Hunt’s renewed vigor for life was overshadowed however, by thoughts of his war in Iraq with the Marines. He lost friends and was wounded in an insurgent attack. He tried to stay positive after his discharge, but his mind always wandered to the medical evacuation of a close friend. “It’s a scene that plays on repeat in my head nearly every day, and most nights as well,” he later wrote.

His depression and post traumatic stress disorder caught up to him on March 31, 2011, when he ended his life, alone in his Houston apartment.

“The story that wasn’t told and that people don’t know for the most part, when Jake [Wood] and Will McNulty went to the funeral,” Allman told me of the founders of Team Rubicon, is that “they found three guys from Clay’s area who were within 10 miles of him. It took a funeral to bring everyone together.”

From a devastating loss, and the revelation that there were others in the area who could have possibly helped if they knew Hunt’s struggle, the idea for POS-REP was born.

“[Jake asked] ‘What do you think of a mobile app that allows veterans to communicate with each other based on their proximity?'” Although Allman was working on another startup at the time, he left that organisation soon after and began developing the idea.

The mobile app, which is currently on the iPhone with later plans for Android, allows veterans to locate other veterans around them, communicate, and find resources in their local communities to help them in their transition out of the military.

“My goal is to fundamentally transform the veteran reintegration experience,” Allman says. “I think the TAP [Transition Assistance Program] is flawed. The courses that you go through on a military base lack relevancy for where you actually go.”

Allman speaks from experience. After serving his last duty with the 4th Infantry Division, he was honorably discharged in 2003. “When I got out, I didn’t know where a lot of the resources were in L.A.,” he says.

POS-REP, which is shorthand for the military term “position report,” is being developed by Allman and a five-man team. It boasts a variety of features that can not only help veterans, but hosts some interesting technology. “We’re really talking about innovation in the veterans reintegration experience,” Allman says.

The free download has a feature called Radar, which shows a map of other veterans around the area, and allows broadcasting of user locations based on your own privacy settings. Then there’s Sitrep, which Allman describes as a “hyper-local version of Twitter,” allowing users to post status updates and communicate.

“What if Clay knew that people from his unit were within 5 to 10 miles? It could’ve changed his whole life. It could’ve changed everyone’s life,” Allman says. That idea is the basis for the Squads feature, which Allman illustrates as a way for military members to stay connected with their brothers and sisters in arms. 

“You’re leaving the service. Squad up with the people in your section or platoon,” Allman says. “It’s the quickest way to maintain comms with the people you served with.” With two touches, a user can communicate with their entire squad, or initiate chat with an individual.

But Allman insists that the app isn’t only about communication. The long-term goal is to set veterans on a path to success. “We can provide resources and push that information to you based on your location,” he says.

“You need to know the jobs in your area. You need to know the schools in your area,” Allman says. “We turn TAP on its head. We make TAP hyper-local. I believe veteran reintegration is a local experience.”

POS-REP has more information available at their website.