Dave Smith, a retired Marine and Iraq combat veteran reached his low in March 2012. He came close to committing suicide, but instead posed an anguished status update to Facebook, confessing that he was in a “downward spiral” and needed help. Within minutes, his friend Will McNulty, called Smith. A week later, McNulty and his business partners showed Smith their plan for POS REP.
POS REP (Position Report) is a free iPhone app designed to help military veterans who are in distress or need help adjusting to civilian life. Military and veteran suicides are currently at near-record levels and at least 30% of military veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan suffering from some sort of post-traumatic stress. The app helps vets find nearby health centers, emergency care and other critical services. It also connects vets with one another. It’s not officially connected to the Department of Veterans Affairs, but its GPS-linked maps will give directions to nearby VA services including health clinics, job fairs, and local chapters of service organizations. “We can make sure they have access to the support that they need to succeed to prevent things like chronic homelessness and suicide down the road,” said Anthony Allman, who heads the app’s backers. “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,” said Dr. Julia Hoffman, the VA’s national director of mobile health.