By Joe McAtee, National Resource Directory and Veterans Job Bank Communications Coordinator and Army Veteran
From copyrights to trademarks and property rights to patents, there’s an array of protections for those who create something to profit from it, financially or otherwise. And that’s a good thing in an economy built on free enterprise. At the National Resource Directory (NRD), however, we take a different approach.
What’s ours is yours.
Once a small online directory serving wounded, ill and injured Service Members, the NRD has grown into a comprehensive, interactive portal of more than 14,000 resources on programs and services for wounded warriors, Service Members, Veterans, their families and caregivers. We add and modify resources at the national, state and local levels to ensure the information we present is accurate and informative. We continually examine organizations to verify they’re acting in good faith, providing the valuable services they promote, and that the funds they raise are spent on initiatives that support the audiences the NRD serves. And then we open the door for other websites to take what we’ve built and use it – through our three NRD widgets.
These widgets can be used at no cost by any organization or agency with a website. Even better, our widgets are maintenance free; they automatically update when content is modified on the NRD.
For instance, we’ve taken the entire NRD and condensed it. From the NRD Search Widget users can search our entire catalog of resources from within any other online domain. The search widget allows site visitors to conduct a search by keyword, or location and filter search results by a variety of factors without leaving the host site.
Most importantly, the NRD Search Widget provides organizations, government agencies and individuals with a simple, cost-free alternative to creating their own directory of resources. As an example, the Wounded Warrior Project has implemented the NRD Search Widget on its site, as has the USO.
For organizations looking for a widget to funnel more specific information to their users, we also have the NRD Resource Widget. With this widget, any organization that wants to provide their users with resources from a specific state and/or on a particular subject (benefits and compensation, education and training, employment family and caregiver support, health, homeless assistance, housing, transportation and travel, volunteer opportunities, and other services and resources) can easily do so.
Embedding an NRD Resource Widget on their websites is an incredibly simple way for elected officials to provide useful resources to their constituents. As an example, Representative Marcia Fudge, who represents eastern Cleveland, uses the NRD Resource Widget to provide all of the NRD’s resources for Ohio to her website’s visitors, and Representative Hansen Clarke uses the widget to provide useful resources in Michigan to his constituency in Detroit.
With the launch of the Veterans Job Bank employment search tool in November of last year, we also created the Veterans Job Bank Widget to provide websites with the opportunity to present their users with a launching point to browse more than a million jobs from employers specifically looking to hire Veterans. As with the main Veterans Job Bank search page, individuals using the widget can search for jobs by keyword, military occupational code (MOC) or location.
While the widgets are a great way for us to provide the data on the NRD and Veterans Job Bank to others, we’ve also created three application programming interfaces (APIs) that websites can use to directly import our data into their own websites. Our APIs cover all of the resources on the NRD, our MOC-to-civilian skill translator and all the jobs on the Veterans Job Bank.
Using an API, any website can import our data into their design scheme. For example, Make the Connection, a public awareness campaign by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, uses our resource API to allow users to search our resources by keyword or subject without compromising the layout of their Web page. When a user performs a search through the resource API, they are provided with resources that take them directly to the information they’re looking for without having to open the NRD website.
Any website can include the NRD widgets or APIs for the low, low cost of free fifty-free. (This is where the announcer says, “Call now, and we’ll throw in an extra widget at no additional cost.”)
And that’s what matters most to us – helping wounded warriors, Service Members, Veterans, their families and caregivers – and anyone else looking for assistance – get the help they need. And giving organizations that care about them the ability to do so.
As we continue to improve the NRD website and provide new features, we’ll stay committed to providing access to data in a cost-efficient and effortless way that leverages the support of both private and public entities. We’ll continue to focus on scale, portability and simplicity. We’ll also keep the door open for anyone who wants to provide access to the helpful resources that those who have served and their families need to succeed and thrive in the communities where they live and work.