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Mental health help for veterans goes mobile with new app

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It’s well known that scores of military veterans face a difficult transition upon returning from battle zones, often manifested through mental health conditions that can lead to isolation and desperation.

In an attempt to reach those veterans that are struggling to cope, a group of developers in Los Angeles is launching a free mobile app that offers support, according to the LA Times.

The app was developed by Position Report, or POS REP for short, an LA-based company led by a group of veterans. Co-founder Jake Wood was inspired by the loss of a fellow Marine veteran friend, Clay Hunt, who took his own life after a battle with PTSD. Hunt was a prominent veteran’s advocate, and his death in 2011 “sent a shockwave” through the community, Anthony Allman, CEO of POS REP, told the paper.

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The app, and the company, hope to help veterans by connecting them with other nearby veterans similarly struggling with mental health issues, while at the same time listing nearby health centers, emergency care and other critical care services.

POS REP has partnered with the Los Angeles chapter of Volunteers of America  and the National Center for Veterans Studies at University of Utah. The company will soon launch a crowd-funding campaign to raise $500,000 that will allow it to launch an Android version of the app and expand into other cities, according to the Times. It’s currently available on iPhones.

The need for such a service is not surprising. As much as 30 percent of all veterans who served in Iraq or Afghanistan suffer from some form of PTSD, according to Department of Veterans Affairs data, although that figure only includes veterans who have sought treatment at VA hospitals and health centers. The actual number is likely higher.

POS REP is not connected to the VA. In addition to providing GPS-enabled maps to health clinics, it will also provide info on job fairs and information on local service organizations.

“The basic justification of the app is absolutely sound in that social support, and especially ongoing social support, plays a key role in aiding those who are suffering,” Julia Hoffman, national director of mobile health at the VA, told the Times.

Jon Sherin, executive vice president and CMO for Volunteers of America, said the nonprofit wants to train 100 retired military retirees to help users of the apps in the LA area.

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Dan Verel

By Dan Verel MedCity News

Dan Verel writes about how hospitals and health insurance companies are leveraging cutting-edge technologies to transform the industry -- from telemedicine to analytics to healthcare social media. Previously, he was a reporter at the North Bay Business Journal, where he covered healthcare, insurance, HR and employment, law and hospitality and tourism. His byline’s also appeared in the Oakland Tribune and the San Francisco Bay Guardian. He attended San Francisco State University and obtained a BA in journalism. He is based in San Francisco.
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