The latest Mobile Citizen case study shares the story of Mike, a homeless veteran in Texas who relies on the EBS-powered mobile internet provided by Mobile Citizen for access to his VA benefits and staying connected to the veteran community. An excerpt is below.
Texas is a big state. It has a lot of blue sky, a lot of long roads and a lot of big storms. Some storms involve thunder and lightning or rain or hail; others involve turbulence of a more personal nature.
Mike became homeless in late 2018, and since then, he’s been living in his truck. He’s had a stroke and has problems with his short-term memory. He’s also a 100 percent disabled veteran who gets cluster headaches and receives both Social Security Disability (SSD) and Veterans Administration (VA) benefits. As military service members and their families will tell you, demonstrating eligibility for benefits is no simple matter. It involves a Texas-sized pile of paperwork, research, legal advice and advocacy and a whole lot of waiting.
When Mike first struggled to show eligibility for benefits in the 1990s, he found himself driving for hours and sleeping in his truck in the parking lot of Tarlton Law Library at the University of Texas. When the library opened in the morning, he’d go in and pore over the law books and resources there, all of which were on paper. The only way to see them was to be there in person, which wasn’t a sustainable practice for someone who lived a hundred-plus miles away.
Since then, a lot has changed. Most law libraries have digitized all their content. Veterans apply for VA and other benefits online. And social media has changed the world in many ways, including in how like-minded individuals connect.
Another important change for Mike has been the purchase of a new Lenovo tablet and a Franklin mobile hotspot, which Mobile Citizen makes available through resellers to people like Mike. Powered by Educational Broadband Service (EBS) spectrum, Mobile Citizen has allowed Mike to pay a very manageable fraction of his previous internet/cable bill, and he gets mobile access to the internet that works almost anywhere he goes—all from a box the size of a deck of cards.
Many folks without permanent residences use libraries, coffee shops and other public facilities to get online and manage bills, do their banking and access important information. Mike’s Mobile Citizen device uses the Sprint mobile network to create a secure connection, so he doesn’t have to worry when he’s entering personal data on the VA web site.
It also gives him 24/7 access to forms of support and information he would not have imagined when he first started reaching out for help with cluster headaches and other medical symptoms. Many conditions that veterans face aren’t immediately recognized by the VA as “disabling.” Getting help, therefore, involves a long, drawn-out claims and appeals process, with lots of back-and-forth communication with various military boards that receive claims and evidence and issue judgment or hear appeals. The process of determining eligibility and issuing a disability rating that determines a veteran’s benefit level can take months—or even years.
Read the full case study to learn more.