One of These Hackathons Is Not Like the Others: Women-VetsinTech Hackathon @ Facebook

By David Cohen 

VetsInTechLogo650Facebook hosts hackathons at its headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif., on a regular basis, but a hackathon held there Monday had a different look to it, as all of the 30 or so participants were female.

The first-ever Women-VetsinTech Hackathon @ Facebook, co-hosted by Vets in Tech and craigslist and craigconnects Founder Craig Newmark, featured female veterans, and clinical psychologist Kristi Erickson won top honors for her proposal for Bohdi, a company to create an application and virtual-reality simulator to provide anxiety treatment for veterans, TechCrunch reported.

According to TechCrunch, Erickson is raising funds via Indiegogo for her project, and she also received access to office space and lunch with Next World Capital General Partner Craig Hanson.

Erickson told TechCrunch in a phone interview that her idea was spawned by speaking with veterans who found their treatments for anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder to be too difficult, and adding that her solution implements dialectical behavior therapy to help patients cope with real-world situations. She told TechCrunch:

There’s just a great need right now for military service members to gain treatment. We all know about the problems right now with the VA (Department of Veterans Affairs) and access to care. If we can come up with these new ways to use technology, we can reach more of the people who actually need the help.

Facebook Diversity Recruiting Strategist Amanda Talbot, who is also a veteran, told TechCrunch on the subject of veterans working at the social network:

It’s a very active group. We’re always looking to recruit more veterans to work here at Facebook.

Another veteran working at Facebook, Anthony Pompliano of the product and growth sector, told TechCrunch that confidence was key for veterans, adding:

We hope people can leverage those skill sets rather than feel they’re at a disadvantage.

And Vets in Tech Founder Katherine Webster said Facebook’s involvement in the event was important, adding:

I’m so impressed with the quality of these women. They’re just as smart as people at any hackathon, and on top of all that, they fought for our country.