Virtual Reality & Veterans’ Mental Health

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can be difficult to treat, but a new therapeutic approach using virtual reality technologies shows tremendous promise. Treatments such as Bravemind, an interactive, virtual reality-based exposure therapy tool used in a clinical setting, are now being used to treat PTSD. Tools like these can curb the painful rise in veteran suicides and help men and women with PTSD resume healthy, productive lives.

Continued research and improved access to virtual reality-based tools like Bravemind can go a long way toward addressing the mental health crisis facing the nation’s veterans.

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Veteran Barriers to Access for Innovative Rehabilitative Devices

The VA offers a broad network and dedicated cohort of physicians to treat these veterans. Yet access to innovative rehabilitative devices can be limited. Such is the case with medical exoskeletons, wearable devices that improve mobility and boost independence for patients with spinal cord injuries.

These barriers to access are problematic, because technology like the exoskeleton can improve outcomes for veterans and reduce their dependency on care over the long term. By contrast, the cost of treating a Veteran with spinal cord injury using outdated technologies can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.

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The Mental Health Benefits of Physical Rehabilitation

Combat injuries that would have once been fatal are now survivable because of medical advances and more sophisticated frontline care. In turn, scores of veterans are returning home with severe physical limitations and long-term, complex medical needs. Addressing the disabilities that are easy to see has long been the focus, but diagnosing and treating the emotional and psychological effects of warfare has only become a priority in recent decades.

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Delivering on the Promise of the Forever GI Bill

Access to higher education remains a major concern for veterans. Despite the funding and assistance made available, issues persist. Recent attempts to address these problems are promising but stop short of offering a complete solution.

With over $11 billion a year spent on education benefits for veterans, policymakers must give due attention to this topic.

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About SoldierStrong Access

Soldier Strong Access is a non-profit advocacy organization existing alongside its non-profit charity partner, Soldier Strong.  After succeeding in helping dozens of veterans overcome challenges with mobility and launching a scholarship fund to put college within reach of America’s returning soldiers, Soldier Strong knew changes in public policies would be necessary to provide access to these opportunities for the veterans community at large.

Issues We Face

Access to Life Changing Medical Technologies

Medical innovation is creating opportunity.  But innovation does not equal access.

Public policy around veteran care has not kept up with recent improvements in medical technologies.

While government programs are in place to research, develop, and test new technologies for our soldiers on the battlefield, no programs exist to facilitate veterans’ access to those technologies for rehabilitation and function.

Soldier Strong Access advocates for policies that support innovation and speed approvals to bring these life-changing technologies from the battlefield to the VA, and within the reach of America’s veteran community.

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Access to Educational Opportunities

As higher education costs rise, there is a widening gap in the GI Bill.

Programs to integrate returning soldiers into campus life are often fragmented and diffused and allow too many veterans to fall through the cracks.  This dynamic most impacts those with PTS and other psychological issues for whom treatment is available, but often not identified in a timely way.

Turmoil within the for-profit education space has a particularly heavy impact on veterans since GI Bill funds lost when these institutions close can mean a loss of housing benefits as well.

Soldier Strong Access works for policy change in order to close these gaps, so our veterans can acquire the skills they need to thrive as private citizens.

Partners

 
Service Women’s Action Network
The Headache and Migraine Policy Forum
 

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