Veterans Online Memorial Challenge

Submit your idea to make the Veterans Online Memorial more engaging and meaningful for users Read Overview...

The Department of Veterans Affairs' (VA) National Cemetery Administration (NCA) seeks to create an interactive digital experience that enables virtual memorialization of the millions of people interred at VA national cemeteries. This online memorial space will allow visitors to honor, cherish, share, and pay their respects and permit researchers, amateurs, students, and professionals to share information about Veterans.

The VA already has the core data and the future development plan to execute on this online memorial concept. We are seeking your best idea of website features or integrations that will make the interactive process meaningful, engaging, and appropriate for all future audiences.

The ideas submitted in this challenge may be utilized in followon challenges that will execute on Topcoder.  


What can you do right now?

Read the winner announcement to review the outcome of the HeroX Ideation Challenge

Visit the Topcoder page to learn about follow on challenges to compete in related competitions.

Review the complete challenge guidelines to see the rules and requirements for entry into the challenge.

Follow the challenge above to be notified of any status updates to the challenge.

Share this challenge on social media using the icons above. Show your friends, your family, or anyone you know who has a passion for discovery.

Start a conversation in our Forum to join the conversation, ask questions or connect with other innovators.



The mission of the National Cemetery Administration (NCA) is to memorialize Veterans in perpetuity.

NCA does this through the national cemeteries as well as through various memorial benefits available to eligible Veterans, their spouses, and dependents. NCA maintains 3.5 million gravesites at 135 national cemeteries. Currently, there are only a few methods to memorialize and commemorate the people and the legacy contained within these cemeteries, none of which are digital. NCA seeks to expand its interactive digital capabilities to better engage the public (rather than simply informing it).                                                                     

Currently, approximately half of NCA’s national cemeteries are closed to burial, and that number will increase over time. NCA, in its commitment to memorialize Veterans in perpetuity, seeks to make available the stories of service and sacrifice of Veterans of all periods.

NCA seeks an online memorial space that is a digital projection of the culture and decorum of the national cemeteries.


Additional Information                                           

The NCA currently owns and operates an online burial site information tool called the Nationwide Gravesite Locator (NGL). NGL is a system that provides the burial locations of veterans and their family members in VA National Cemeteries, state veterans cemeteries, various other military and Department of Interior cemeteries, and for veterans buried in private cemeteries when the grave is marked with a government grave marker.                                                                       

The Nationwide Gravesite Locator includes burial records from many sources. These sources provide varied data; some searches may contain less information than others. Information on veterans buried in private cemeteries was collected for the purpose of furnishing government grave markers. NGL is not meant to be interactive; people cannot leave notes, photos, comments, etc. on any of the results generated. It is meant purely as an information tool. NGL is available both for desktop and mobile devices.


What can you do?

We are asking you to submit ideas to creatively address one or more of the following items:

  • Attracts visitors to the online memorial
  • Engages visitors while at the online memorial
  • Retains visitors for long term online memorial engagement
  • Returns visitors to the online memorial on a habitual basis
  • Ensures proper decorum/appropriateness is upheld within the online memorial
  • Incorporates in-person interactive features
  • Integrates interactive features for those who can only engage remotely



The Department of Veterans Affairs will award up to $10,000 in prize money, awarded as follows:

  • 5 Finalists - $1,000 each
  • 1 Grand Winner - $5,000


Open to submissions              October 26, 2017

Submission deadline               November 30, 2017 @ 5pm ET

Winners Announced                December 21, 2017



How do I win?

To be eligible for an award, your proposal must, at minimum:

  • Satisfy the Judging Scorecard requirements
  • Thoughtfully address the Submission Form questions
  • Be scored higher than your competitors!


Judging Scorecard






Does the idea invoke powerful emotions that resonate with The Department of Veterans Affairs mission to virtualize memorialization in a meaningful way? Does the idea help ensure proper decorum in memorialization?




Is the idea engaging? Does it have the potential to attract and retain users to the site, welcoming frequent site visits over the course of several years?




How does the idea differ from existing solutions addressing this problem? How is the solution innovative?



Is the idea practical and viable to implement? Did the innovator state the resources, timing, partnerships necessary to develop their idea? Judges will consider the fact that larger scale proposals will require more complex implementation.




Participation Eligibility:

The challenge is open to individuals, age 18 or older, private teams, public teams, and collegiate teams. Individual competitors and teams may originate from any country, as long as United States federal sanctions do not prohibit participation (see: https://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/sanctions/Programs/Pages/Programs.aspx).

The following restrictions apply to the Challenge:  (1) Federal employees acting within the scope of their employment are not eligible to participate; (2) Federal employees acting outside the scope of their employment should consult their ethics advisor before participating in the Challenge; (3) All employees of the Government, [contractor(s)], Challenge sponsors, and other individual or entity associated with the development or administration of the Challenge, as well as their family members (i.e., spouse, children, parents, siblings, other dependents) and persons living in the same household whether or not related, are not eligible to participate; (4) Contractors receiving Government funding for the same or similar projects, along with their employees, are not eligible to participate in the Challenge.

Submissions must be made in English. All challenge-related communication will be in English.

No specific qualifications or expertise is required. Prize organizers encourage outside individuals and non-expert teams to compete and propose new solutions.

To be eligible to compete, you must comply with all the terms of the challenge as defined in the Challenge-Specific Agreement.


Registration and Submissions:

Submissions must be made online (only), via upload to the HeroX.com website, on or before 5pm ET on November 30, 2017. All uploads must be in PDF format. No late submissions will be accepted.


Intellectual Property:

As detailed in the Challenge-Specific Agreement – Innovators who are awarded a prize for their submission must agree to grant The United States Department of Veterans Affairs an irrevocable, royalty free, perpetual, sublicensable, transferable, and worldwide license to use and permit others to use all or any part of the submission including, without limitation, the right to make, have made, sell, offer for sale, use, rent, lease, import, copy, prepare derivative works, publicly display, publicly perform, and distribute all or any part of such submission, modifications, or combinations thereof and to sublicense (directly or indirectly through multiple tiers) or transfer any and all such rights.  The Department of Veterans Affairs' may implement submitted ideas in future online memorials.


Selection of Winners:

Based on the winning criteria, prizes will be awarded per the Judging Criteria section above. In the case of a tie, the winner(s) will be selected based on the highest votes from the Judges.


Judging Panel:

The determination of the winners will be made by HeroX/Topcoder based on evaluation by relevant  The Department of Veterans Affairs' reviewers.  Scores and feedback from The Department of Veterans Affairs' will not be shared. 


Additional Information

  • By participating in the challenge, each competitor agrees to submit only their original idea. Any indication of "copying" amongst competitors is grounds for disqualification.
  • All applications will go through a process of due diligence; any application found to be misrepresentative, plagiarized, or sharing an idea that is not their own will be automatically disqualified.
  • All ineligible applicants will be automatically removed from the competition with no recourse or reimbursement.
  • No purchase or payment of any kind is necessary to enter or win the competition.
  • Void wherever restricted or prohibited by law.
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