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GTD data added to new tool that helps veterans

START’s Global Terrorism Database (GTD) has been added to the Official Military Activities Report (OMAR), a new tool that supports veterans by expediting the verification process for mental health claims. Pulling from various event datasets of military actions and significant events, OMAR allows Veterans Affairs employees to quickly access data needed to verify veterans’ claims – reducing the claims development process by an average of 60 days.

“The power of OMAR is that it puts information that is helpful during the claims process in the hands of VA employees, streamlining customer service and eliminating duplicative efforts,” said Chris Aragao, a supervisory Veterans Service representative at the Providence Regional Office in Rhode Island. “Employees are essentially given a database of known events that occurred during some of our nation’s key conflicts and are able to verify them seamlessly, without needing to liaison with additional Federal entities.”

Aragao and his team created OMAR to reduce the significant amount of time it took to get the Department of Defense data needed to process veterans’ claims. They combined and mapped data from other trusted sources and created a database that included 750,000 significant events in Iraq and Afghanistan that could be filtered by time, location and type of event. But that was just the beginning.

In January, OMAR added GTD data and satellite mapping to further enhance the database.

“I was contacted by a claims processor early on after OMAR was released. He was working on a Marine Security Guard’s claim for a mental health condition,” Aragao said. “The veteran stated that he witnessed a bombing in Israel while on duty. Immediately, my partner David Enright and I knew we had to find a way to help veterans in such situations. GTD was it and then some. Now, we were not limited to Iraq and Afghanistan, we could verify a larger universe of claims with GTD.”

OMAR now includes more than a million events throughout the world. Aragao said that the Veterans Benefits Administration will continue to add new data.

According to the VA, OMAR is named in honor of the late Gen. Omar N. Bradley, who was the General of the Army and served as the head of the Veterans Administration as it was called in 1945. He is quoted as saying, “we are dealing with [veterans], not procedures; with their problems, not ours.” OMAR was developed in the spirit of Bradley’s words and VA’s current goals of modernizing systems and processes to provide better customer service to our veterans.