It can be hard for veterans to find access to resources and help. Here's a rundown of seven apps that can help veterans get care and access their hard-earned benefits.
If you prefer to read the TechRepublic gallery 7 mobile apps designed to help veterans in an article format, keep reading to get all of the important information right here.
The Veterans Administration app store
If you've tried searching iTunes or the Play store for VA apps you may have been disappointed at what you found. There are native iOS and Android apps that the VA made, but they're nowhere near as robust as what's available on the VA App Store.
This mobile site runs "apps" that are formatted for mobile users but available on all platforms. You can sort by type of app and platform, as well as being able to manually search for what you want.
The one drawback of the VA App Store platform is that it's a bit confusing, especially if you're not a tech-savvy vet. Most of the things you can do on the App Store are available on websites or native mobile apps, which might be easier if you don't feel like learning a new system.
SEE: Mobile device computing policy (Tech Pro Research)
Rallypoint social network
Rallypoint is a social network for veterans and active service members. It has robust features that feel a lot like LinkedIn. You can connect with people based on rank, branch, and MOS, and it will also import contacts from your various email and social media accounts. There's also a great job search feature for both military postings and civilian jobs--great for both the ETSing soldier and those looking to PCS to greener pastures.
VetChange mobile app
Around 13% of vets end up abusing alcohol or drugs. That might not seem like a lot, but think about your last squad: At least one person in that lineup will, statistically, end up with a problem.
VetChange is an app released by the VA that is designed to fight alcohol abuse and aid in recovery. A few quick questions when the app is first installed will help you establish a plan to reduce or eliminate drinking, and a daily log will help you keep track of your goals.
There's also some quick-hit buttons to help you manage cravings and moods that can push you to drink. The app is free on iOS, but isn't available for Android.
StayQuit mobile app
StayQuit is similar to VetChange, but for kicking your smoking habit. It can give you reminders, help you see the benefits of quitting day by day, allows you to set custom motivators, and can instantly connect you to support when cravings get rough.
If you're in need of a smoking cessation coach in your pocket this app could help. Check it out on iOS.
PTSD Coach mobile app
Around 20% of your OIF/OEF battle buddies have PTSD. That's a lot of people dealing with issues that can derail life completely. If you or someone you know is dealing with PTSD life can feel lonely, isolated, and without hope.
The VA has been continually improving on their PTSD services, and their PTSD Coach app is one way they're trying to reach more veterans. The four options on the app's home screen just scratch the surface of what the app can offer. You can set up custom images and sounds to help you, get help with specific symptoms, and reach out to someone immediately in a crisis situation.
If you suffer from PTSD, you aren't alone. Don't hesitate to reach out to the VA in your area for help. There's no app that can benefit you as much as professional help.
Mindfulness Coach mobile app
Being focused on the here and now can be hard, whether you're suffering from PTSD, other mental health issues, or simply have trouble focusing. The Mindfulness Coach app from the VA is designed to help you focus and stay grounded through classic mindfulness exercises.
You can schedule times of the day to practice mindfulness, learn all about why it's beneficial, and track your progress over time. As someone who's been trying to practice mindfulness myself, I can honestly say that it's a big help in dealing with even the simplest day-to-day problems. Developing your personal coping skills is important, but it's no substitute for professional care. Locate a VA clinic or hospital in your area to take full advantage of the benefits you've earned.
Mindfulness Coach is available on iOS.
My3 mobile app
Most cellphones allow you to have a list of "favorite contacts" that are easily accessible. Think of My3 as a list like that, but for people you trust to help you if you're contemplating suicide. You can add three people to the list that you can reach out to immediately during a crisis, which can make a world of difference in a crisis situation.
My3 wasn't designed specifically with veterans in mind, but it can do a lot of good if you find yourself struggling.
You can also program the app with a safety plan that helps you when you need it most.You can email the plan to people so they're able to know exactly when you need help, too. When things get that bad you need to be surrounded by people that care.
What are your favorite apps for veterans?
Okay, fellow vets and active troops--are there any apps out there you've found useful? Sound off in the comments to give your battle buddies some tips.
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- 5 online resources every military veteran should know (TechRepublic)
- How Google is connecting veterans to civilian jobs (TechRepublic)
- How America's veterans can help fill the tech skills gap (TechRepublic)
- Veterans in the workplace: What employers and vets need to know (TechRepublic)
- 10 pieces of military technology that changed the way the civilian world works (TechRepublic)
- Photos: How tech helps injured veterans gain independence (CNET)