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Community connections by the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) help veterans come home. Learn how helps.
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Community connections help veterans come home

Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) is helping the nation keep its promise to take care of the newest generation of vets. As the largest organization for veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, IAVA knows that community is key to helping veterans successfully transition back to civilian life—and online tools are the fastest way for them to make social connections when they return home.


“Salesforce is helping us transform how vets and their families connect with government, local communities and each other,” says Paul Rieckhoff, IAVA’s Founder and Chief Executive Officer. “Sometimes a veteran’s priority is finding a job; sometimes it’s just about feeling a sense of normalcy. Salesforce helps facilitate every aspect of support.”

In just six weeks, IAVA created and launched the Rucksack, a rewards program built on the Salesforce Platform that connects returning vets with rewards like tickets to games and concerts, new suits for interviews, and other free employment, education and community-building opportunities. With the Rucksack, IAVA’s capacity to serve vets increased five-fold. The organization added more than 38,000 new members and received more than 75 requests by companies that want to join its 100+ partners.

“This generation of vets differs from previous generations in important ways,” says Rieckhoff. While nearly 15 percent of the population served in World War Two, a returning soldier today may be the only person in their town that served in Iraq or Afghanistan – they are less than one-half of one percent of the American population. “Connecting vets with one another to rebuild a sense of community and security can literally make the difference between life and death.”

Beyond the Rucksack, IAVA is using Salesforce to track and engage members, automate internal operations, and accurately measure key metrics to demonstrate impact for supporters. “We hope those working with veterans—especially government agencies—will follow our lead to better serve vets and their families.”

IAVA will soon be expanding its Salesforce footprint to build a one-stop member portal through its website. “The goal is to create a completely unified user experience that aggregates all of our digital products,” explains Rieckhoff.

“We want to make it easy for vets to access our tools and each other for resources and support.”