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September 16, 2013

VetsPrevail™ helps veterans transition from war

Web-based software helps returning military veterans with PTSD, depression and other issues

With support from the National Science Foundation (NSF), former Navy pilot Rich Gengler, former Army sergeant Justin Savage and the team at Prevail Health Solutions have built and tested an online screening and counseling program called VetsPrevail™. Optimized through careful research, the program helps service members returning from Iraq and Afghanistan make a more successful transition.

A Pentagon study concluded that returning Iraq and Afghanistan veterans are currently suffering from "daunting and growing mental health problems," with nearly one third of these military personnel reporting symptoms of mental illness upon their return from combat. A lack of adequate available resources, combined with a fear of stigmatization inherent in seeking face-to-face treatment, prevent as many as 77 percent of these military personnel from ever getting the treatment they need.

VetsPrevail™ will enable the military's mental health professionals to offer an effective, evidence-based and drug-free intervention for depression or for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which will effectively mitigate stigma concerns faced by military personnel and will provide treatment at a fraction of the cost of the typical interventions available today.

With an estimated 5 million veterans and 20 million civilians in the United States suffering from depression alone, cost-effective and innovative methods to help address this burgeoning health care problem are critical. Through further research, this web-based framework has the potential to extend to many behavioral health disorders that plague the U.S., including drug abuse, anxiety and alcoholism.

The research in this episode was supported by NSF award #0956637, SBIR Phase II: Internet-based Software for the Treatment of Depression among Veterans.

Miles O'Brien, Science Nation Correspondent
Ann Kellan, Science Nation Producer

Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations presented in this material are only those of the presenter grantee/researcher, author, or agency employee; and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.