July 2015, I was at a meeting that changed my life. You see, I am from a HUGE military family (my daughter is currently serving in the U.S. Navy) and I have been fortunate and unfortunate to see both sides of military life. (My brother-in-law died in a jet crash while serving his country). I have seen many military families struggle to make ends meet,or once out of the armed forces, try to adjust to civilian life.
Anyway, at this meeting was a woman named Helen and she asked if she could talk to me after the meeting. Helen was with the VA (Veterans Administration) , and at that time the VA literally had veterans dying before they got an appointment to see a doctor (things are better now). Helen asked me one question...."Warren, is there something you can do with your app development to help veterans?" I said I would love to...and told her I would get back with her after I do a little research. The next day, I called my brother-in-law, John, a former Naval Commander, in Virginia and asked him what were some of the pitfalls of life in the military and the transition into civilian life. He told me that most military families don't make a lot of money and that being able to find businesses that offer discounts and/or programs designed to help military families was crucial in some instances. He further stated that many local businesses offer discounts and assistance but "How the heck do military personnel they know which ones do...and which ones don't....and where they are located?!" That is when God turned on the light in my heart. "Why not build a FREE mobile app for military/veteran families that is a directory of the LOCAL businesses and organizations that support them?!"
The following day, I started calling businesses around the Pensacola area and sure enough, I found a lot of businesses generously offer military discounts or have programs that benefit military families. After struggling to get enough content so Apple and Android would approve the app, on February 12th 2016, the Military Appreciation App was approved in Android (Google Play) and a few weeks later in the Apple app market.
For the past 5 years, this has been my labor of love. The Military Appreciation App (MAA) has helped many family members and at the same time helped a few local businesses increase their military patronage. I am proud of what I have done but without the help of the business owners, veterans, and many others....the Military Appreciation App would have been a dream instead of a reality. I have made many "learning" mistakes along the way along with the successes. FYI, the app is ONLY funded by local businesses that see the value in advertising to military men and women. That being said, Covid-19 has hurt or shut down a lot of our area businesses thus affecting our community, our military and the MAA. The MAA has never been a "money project." Our success has always been in helping military families connect with local businesses and organizations.
UPDATE: We are currently trying to bring the MAA back to the forefront of the community. So if you are a local military supportive business owner, please consider listing with us (hint: it's cheap) and if you are a veteran/military man, woman or family member, please download the FREE app (just search Military Appreciation App in the app store on your smartphone) and please support the area businesses that support you. Doing this, is a win/win for you and our community. Thanks to all of you who have helped me and contributed to the success of the MAA. Please continue to do so and let's make 2021 a great year for everyone. God Bless YOU ALL and the United State of America.