Bridging the Opportunity Divide

The Future of PTSD Treatment: A Phone App

May 19, 2014
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The Future of PTSD Treatment: A Phone App
Members of the military exposed to war/combat and other groups at high risk for trauma exposure are at risk for developing PTSD. Chris Hondros/Getty Images
"Battle Buddy" aims to do what many veterans struggle to do for themselves.

Making the first move can be hardest part of recovery. And while hotlines exist for veterans suffering from PTSD, they depend on the afflicted actually being able to pick up the phone and take action.

“I was concerned about how other people would interact with me,” says one man interviewed for a Veterans Affairs project on getting help for post-traumatic stress disorder.

But what if help came to them, unobtrusively, as part of their daily routine, with no judgment, and asking just a few check-in questions?

That’s the idea behind a new app, “Battle Buddy,” which is being developed by Dryhootch, a veterans’ outreach and support organization, along with Marquette University and the Medical College of Wisconsin. The program takes its name from an Army practice of assigning soldiers “buddies” to keep tabs on each other (a program that has saved countless lives). The “Battle Buddy” app has collected $850,000 in grants so far.

“There are times when you’re suffering with mental health issues and you don’t want to deal with people, but you may be willing to do it openly and freely through a device,” Jada Reynolds, a Dryhootch case manager, told WISN.

How will the app work? It will check in with veterans daily, asking a series of basic questions to see how they’re doing, and whether they need help. A mentor will monitor a soldier’s answers, keeping an eye out for issues.

“It took me eight years to be able to ask for help,” Heather Antoniewicz, who served aboard the USS Carl Vinson, told WISN.

The developers hope to launch the app this fall, meaning that help is on the horizon for veterans in desperate need of it.

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