‘Maverick’: Texas VLB launches virtual assistant to help veterans access benefits

Texas Politics

A Vietnam veteran salutes the flag during a Veterans Day ceremony. (Steffi Lee/Nexstar Media Group)

AUSTIN (Nexstar) — Texas veterans with questions about benefits have a new tool to help.

The Texas Veterans Land Board announced Thursday the launch of a virtual assistant on the board’s website. The tool is called Maverick, and uses artificial intelligence to answer questions on 119 different topics 24/7.

“The VLB seeks to serve as a central point for information in the Veteran community, and service for our men and women who served our country means providing far beyond minimum expectations,” VLB Chairman George P. Bush, who also serves as Commissioner of the General Land Office.

“While the VLB continues to provide a call center helpline with staff who stand ready and waiting to answer during business hours, not all questions arise between eight to five, and we know that,” Bush added.

Maverick the chatbot can answer questions about loans, veteran homes, land sales and Texas State Cemeteries. It also serves as a directory to guide veterans with questions about VA benefits to Texas Parks and Wildlife “for inquiries on how to obtain a fishing license,” the VLB said Thursday.

Earlier this year the Texas Workforce Commission implemented a similar chat bot to answer questions about unemployment claims.

According to the VLB, Maverick is using IBM Watson Assistant and IBM Watson Discovery on IBM public cloud.

A spokesperson for the VLB said its call center remains fully staffed and equipped to answer questions during business hours.

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