AUSTIN, Texas – Drayton Florence grew up in a military household and went on to have an 11-year NFL career. When he got into tech after his playing career, he decided to use his skills to help military veterans.
Florence helped develop the Vets 22 app, which aims to give veterans easy access to resources including housing solutions, employment opportunities, discounts, chat features and crisis hotlines. Researchers estimate an average of 22 military veterans commit suicide every day.
“We always see stories about NFL players struggling with their transitions, and for me, I saw military personnel do the same thing,” Florence said at the South by Southwest Conference. “So upon my retirement, I was having lunch with a retired colonel and some Iraqi war veterans, and they were asking me about my transition from the NFL, and then I asked them, and it was a lot of similarities as far as getting help, resources.
“So we put together an app where military veterans can have their resources at the click of a button — suicide prevention, a 22-pushup challenge that you can go on to encourage other veterans, VA benefits and claims information.”
Florence developed the app with a company for which he serves as director of strategic partnerships called Tech From Vets and Jeff Shuford, who is president of the company and an Iraq War veteran. The app is self-funded and has an Indiegogo that seeks to raise $50,000 as well as awareness about the resource. The money will go toward marketing in order to get the free app to veterans in the Jacksonville, Fla. area.
After launching the app last month, Florence said that next he wanted to create an app for NFL players in transition after their careers on the field.
“The hustle part for me was the preparation,” Florence said of the transition to the tech space with Tech From Vets. “Most people kind of get confused when they say ‘hustle.’ It’s not hustle in energy. It’s mental.”
For Engadget, Shuford wrote of Florence, “Drayton has a passion for bringing technology to Northeast Florida. Utilizing Drayton’s extensive knowledge of business and his determination help Tech From Vets make an impact in the Tech sector Drayton has become a force to be reckoned with in the tech industry.