Saturday, July 2, 2022

Local military families have access to a new support resource

Sailors aboard the Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Cole (DDG 67) stand at parade rest during the 20th Anniversary memorial ceremony onboard Naval Station Norfolk. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Jacob Milham)
Sailors aboard the Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Cole (DDG 67) stand at parade rest during the 20th Anniversary memorial ceremony onboard Naval Station Norfolk. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Jacob Milham)

There’s a new app designed to provide military families with specialized support in the Hampton Roads area.

It’s called the Military Assistance Portal, or MAP.

“The MAP application has offered the opportunity for community partners to unite and support those who serve us: our military,” said Natalie Meiggs, the project’s lead and the coordinator of military connected and academic support programs for Virginia Beach City Public Schools.

The app is a product of collaboration among VBCPS, William & Mary, and Machut Industries, Inc.

With funding from a Department of Defense Education Activity grant, MAP connects military-affiliated families with everything from Fleet and Family Support Centers to personal crisis resources. The release of the app coincides with Military Family Appreciation Month.

Established in 2017, the project culminated in a collaborative effort called the Globally Resilient Innovative Thinkers (GRIT) Resource Guide, which entailed cooperation among military-connected community partners like school counselors and liaisons to compile the best possible list of resources.

Once the framework for a resource list was established with GRIT, the next goal was to make sure anyone who needed the list could find it and use it. In today’s digital climate, developing an app seemed to be the best route.

“This is a perfect collaboration of the private and public sectors,” said Gail B. Hardinge, executive director of the STEM Education Alliance at William & Mary and one of the students’ mentors in the project.

From start to finish, the MAP project spurred teamwork across a wide network of young professionals and established engineers.

Vaelyn Dulce and Alexis Osipovs, who started in the project as Virginia Beach high schoolers, worked with the resource data that William & Mary grad students collected to form the GRID.

From there, they worked with Christopher Machut of Machut Industries, Inc., who helped them develop the MAP app.

“It is essentially our website, but modified to make it flow seamlessly as a mobile application. MAP is both a website and an app, so more people will be able to access and find the resources they need. After all, that is the main goal: to help as many people as possible,” said Dulce, one of the app’s developers.

Dulce and Osipovs are now majoring in technology fields in their sophomore year of college.

You can find the MAP in the App Store or on Google Play. 

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