Make The Connection


Make The Connection was an important initiative for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. The site was built to provide meaningful and important information about mental health issues to Veterans and their families, but it needed to be done so in a way that avoided the stigmas associated with them. Being such a sensitive area of discussion, the wrong language or images can be a turn off to a Veteran, and the site would lose viewership.

The solution was a site that asked some simple information about the Veteran user regarding gender, era and branch of service, and exposure to combat. From that criteria, the site would be presented in a way that matched that Veteran with the content that suited him or her. A male Vietnam-era U.S. Army Veteran would be served content, videos and images specific to his situation, prioritizing mental health issues that would affect him, and further burying images and video content that might not relate to him. Such a Veteran might be turned off by a female or a younger Veteran who might not understand his situation. Most importantly, the filter would allow for conditions like PTSD and depression to be presented to the appropriate users, without them first having to accept the label that comes along with them.

The filter is present on each page of the site until users close it. A Stories of Connection video gallery is filled with phenomenal video testimonials from true Veterans, and it has a filter unto itself allowing for the vast library to be easily narrowed down (using a JQuery plugin called Isotope, like this website employs).