For wounded warriors, mobile apps can offer life-saving impact

Today’s wounded warriors return from combat to face an overwhelming landscape: Beyond readjusting to civilian life, there are injuries to cope with, scarce jobs to find and broken connections to mend. But some new solutions are becoming available that troops can fit in their pocket and use anytime once they’re home.

The marketplace for mobile apps has exploded, including within the military space. There are apps for handling traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder, and apps for job-hunting resources. Government agencies are collaborating to get resources delivered to troops through a medium with which they’re highly familiar – their smart phones and tablets.

Recently the Army announced a comprehensive smart phone app that provides troops with a guide to mobile resources including medical coordination, compensation and benefits and reintegration into daily life outside the military.

Another new app links wounded warriors through video. It can help connect troops back to their units, or put them in touch with others who have similar injuries and experiences.

The Injured Military Personnel Assisting Combat Troops (IMPACT) app for iPad connects users in first-person interviews, both pre-recorded and live, like Skype or Google+ chats. It also makes use of multi-media content – including throughout the counter-IED community, where information has the potential to save lives.

“IMPACT stems from visits to Walter Reed and Bethesda [Army medical centers], where we talked to troops who were saying, ‘I can’t wait to get back to my unit,’” said Ken Falke, co-founder of Shoulder 2 Shoulder, which developed the app. “In terms of the big picture, we’re hoping IMPACT can help protect troops. A wounded warrior who forgot his metal detector [in combat] and lost his legs to an IED can use this to tell guys in the theater, ‘Hey, don’t forget your metal detector.’ They can share lessons learned.”

IMPACT is a different spin than some of the other apps geared for use by troops, but it’s part of a bigger movement that harnesses the growing power of mobile technology.

“It’s an obvious trend – people are looking for help, and people are looking how to help,” Falke said. “We know that linking people to those with similar life experiences is a very positive opportunity for morale, intervention, therapy and connecting people who are alike and want to share and connect to the combat theater. They want to be part of something.”

IMPACT is a free app that will be available May 1 in the iTunes store.

About the Author

Amber Corrin is a former staff writer for FCW and Defense Systems.

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