Many soldiers struggle to adjust to civilian life after returning from combat, but help may be closer than they thought. The Department of Defense (DoD) recently unveiled a mobile app that makes it easier for servicemembers to find activities that may make the transition home a bit smoother.
Dubbed the Positive Activity Jackpot, the Android application was developed by the National Center for Telehealth and Technology, and focuses on providing returning soldiers with a schedule of mood-boosting events. The center hopes its unique version of therapy may help ease symptoms of depression or anxiety some soldiers feel upon returning stateside.
"After returning from a combat deployment, service members who are used to a more structured daily schedule may have difficulty adjusting to life at home," said Dr. Amanda Edwards Stewart, a psychologist who led the development of the program. "This can lead to difficulties with relationships, depression and other problems."
Though it can help soldiers find structure, experts are quick to point out that it is not a substitute for therapy or medical attention. The unveiling of the app comes as Facebook also released a tool to help soldiers who may be struggling with the transition to civilian life.
On Wednesday, the popular social network detailed its plans to help decrease suicide rates among servicemembers by providing tools specifically aimed at veterans, active duty soldiers and their families.
The program is a joint venture between Facebook and Blue Star Families, which recently revealed in its Military Family Lifestyle survey that around 9 percent of servicemembers have considered suicide. Additionally, with around 86 percent of military families who have a Facebook profile saying they access the site daily, reaching out via the social network seems like a good idea.
The new tool builds on an already-existing service offered by Facebook but tailors it so that it's aimed at the military community. Specifically, it gives soldiers and military family members detailed information about mental health services and access to The Veterans Crisis line.
The new initiative may help cut into the alarmingly high suicide rate among veterans. According to a recent report in The New York Times, around 6,500 vets commit suicide each year.