Service Designer & Design Strategist
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Humanizing Veteran Services

Building empathy and design capabilities of West Point Academy cadets and providing recommendations for changes to NYC veteran services.

Design Workshop with Army Officers

Design Workshop with Army Officers

 
 

CHALLENGE

Collaborate with West Point Academy in order to help the New York City Department of Veterans’ Services better understand ways to address the challenges faced by people in the military transitioning back to civilian life in the City.

 
 
West Point Academy Cadets

West Point Academy Cadets

GENERAL INFO

Partners
The New York City Department of Veterans’ Services, West Point Academy, Foossa

Team
Daniela V Sanchez, David Colby Reed, Lauren Atkins, and Lee-Sean Huang

Location
New York

Role
Design Strategist and Facilitator

 

OUTCOME

A 10-day hackathon focused on building the design and empathy capabilities of West Point Academy cadets and soldiers and a list of actionable recommendations for the NYC Department of Veterans’ Services.

 
 
 

Emphasizing the need for empathic understanding, active listening, systems thinking, and human-centered problem-solving techniques, the 10-day hackathon acted as an important mark in West Point education. While the immediate outcome of the project was the development of the 10-day immersive experience focused on human-centered design for West Point Cadets and faculty, the project also led to two additional outcomes. 

  1. A list of recommendations to improve DVS services (The Department of Veterans Services). 

  2. A long-term plan for bringing design to West Point in order to help the academy build empathy, adaptability and resilience amongst its ne new generations of Army leaders.

MY ROLE

  1. Facilitator & Educator - facilitating workshops with cadets and West Point faculty, guiding the group through the human-centered design process from research to development.

  2. Design Strategist - planning and creating activities for the workshops, and connecting West Point cadets and faculty with veterans and other stakeholders.

 
At first, I was extremely skeptical of the idea that empathy had any place in problem-solving. However, this trip showed me that empathy is not just a nice idea but a real skill that can yield powerful insights.
— Cadet Dillon Biggs
 
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This unique experience was eye opening for me. Through dialogue around creativity and identity, I discovered a lot about myself and what I aspire to be. I came to learn that helping people and taking chances are two ideas that I will live by.
— Cadet Delaney Marbach
 
West Point cadets presenting their recommendations to DVS

West Point cadets presenting their recommendations to DVS

 

Emphasizing the need for empathic understanding, active listening, systems thinking, and human-centered problem-solving techniques, the 10-day hackathon acted as an important mark in West Point education. While the immediate outcome of the project was the development of the 10-day immersive experience focused on human-centered design for West Point Cadets and faculty, the project also led to two additional outcomes. 

  1. A list of recommendations to improve DVS services (The Department of Veterans Services). 

  2. A long-term plan for bringing design to West Point in order to help the academy build empathy, adaptability and resilience amongst its new generations of Army leaders.

 
 
Celebrating the new partnership between West Point Academy and DVS

Celebrating the new partnership between West Point Academy and DVS

 
The experience highlighted the value of patience and active listening as keys to the most substantive and fruitful dialogue.
— Cadet Amy Yang
 
 
 
 

CONTEXT

In August 2017, Foossa collaborated with NYC Veterans (The New York City Department of Veterans Services ,  also known as DVS) and a group of West Point (the U.S. Military Academy focused on developing leaders in the U.S. Army) cadets, faculty and staff to better understand and address the challenges faced by people in the military transitioning back to civilian life.

The collaboration was kicked off at West Point with two intensive days of workshops that focused on using human-centered design for creative problem-solving.