Bob Schwartz

The Wait We Carry

The Wait We Carry
IAVA has been at the forefront of modern veterans advocacy—something desperately needed in the face of modern veterans benefit challenges (that is, much talk, little action).

The latest of these advocacy tools is dazzlingly innovative and personalizing. Here is the IAVA introduction:

This is the true face of the backlog. Introducing: The Wait We Carry.

By now, you’ve seen the big numbers behind the VA disability benefits backlog — over 565,000 vets waiting too long to get their claims resolved. But it’s not enough to talk about the numbers. We wondered: what are those vets going through? How is their wait for benefits affecting them and their families?

We asked vets to tell us about their experiences while waiting for their benefits. Their stories blew me away. I knew immediately that I wanted to do something that would give a voice to their struggle. Harnessing the power of technology, we have created a state-of-the-art data visualization tool to bring those stories to the world. It’s called The Wait We Carry.

The Wait We Carry is an interactive way for anybody to engage with the folks waiting for their benefits through their stories. There are several different search options so you can find a specific story, or you can simply take your time browsing through all of the stories. It drives our point home that there isn’t just one backlog experience. The weight of the wait is different for everybody.

The power of this tool is that it holds everybody accountable for the unacceptably long wait times. That’s why it’s crucial that this thing goes viral.

I’ve been working on this for months, and I am certain that The Wait We Carry is powerful enough to end the VA backlog for good. Make sure you check it out today —


Jacob Worrell
OIF Veteran, US Army 2004-2007
Product Strategy Associate
Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA)

Immigration: The Right People and the Wrong People

Pilgrims - Superman - Jews
Today brings another high-profile politician talking about immigration policy that lets “the right people” in (those who will create the next Google) and keeps “the wrong people” out (vaguely defined, but you’ll know them when you see them).

A reminder that except for continental natives, all Americans are immigrants. Even the Mayflower people. Even Superman, an undocumented immigrant who for years was hidden by a seemingly kind and gentle Midwestern couple—of outlaws; why weren’t Ma and Pa Kent ever put in jail?

In the lead up to World War II, America could not find a place for thousands of Jews fleeing Hitler. These were apparently the wrong people, or the right people at the wrong time, or something. Any country is apt to make mistakes; America is no exception. Still, it is ironic that some of the people who were turned away might have started hundreds of Googles, or the 1930s equivalents. As it is, we can only imagine.

We can’t let everybody in, or so we say, but we don’t really talk about why not and what that means. Instead, we have immigrants who are “the wrong people”, but we also have “the right people” to serve particular national or individual interests (see also involuntary immigrants who were cheaper and more versatile than machines).

Not everybody is Superman. Not everybody is a bunch of unwanted people who will become the cliché of founding stock (Pilgrims) or unwanted people who never make it to shore (Jews). Not everybody is an entrepreneur. Not everybody is willing to take the worst jobs that few others want. Immigrants are people, not “right” or “wrong”. We can and should have a conversation without forgetting that.