ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) — New technology could become a lifesaver for U.S. military veterans. Doctors are using virtual reality and artificial intelligence to identify the risk of suicide among veterans before it’s too late.
According to Wounded Warrior Project’s annual warrior survey, three in four veterans registered with Wounded Warrior Project reported living with PTSD in 2022. PTSD is the second most common health issue reported by veterans registered with Wounded Warrior Project. PTSD is something retired Army Command Sergeant Major Tonya Oxendine experienced during her 30-year military career. She was raped in basic training and endured years of sexual harassment and assault thereafter.
“I was in a really bad place. So much so it felt like I was in the ring with the heavyweight boxing champ. I was being knocked down over and over and I couldn’t get up. But fortunately, I had the toughness and mental fortitude to reach out to Wounded Warrior Project and ask for help and I was a part of the two-week program with the Warrior Care Network and part of it was the virtual reality as well,” said Oxendine.
Doctor Erin Fletcher says PTSD treatment has improved due to technological innovation.
“We know that PTSD is a disorder of trauma and that means that Warriors have to try to avoid tough and uncomfortable memories which limits where you go and to experience the world. Virtual reality therapy creates a safe place for the warrior to experience their trauma. It is vivid and customized to that person’s unique experience and down to the sounds and the vibrations and even the smells and after a warrior goes through this event they will speak to a therapist to help process their reaction. They will learn skills and have tools to take the power back to those memories and leave them feeling strong and empowered to live a full and good life,” said Fletcher.
Oxendine says the treatment has been a success. She has some advice for those going through PTSD.
“First of all ask for help and then to be open to new ways of healing and again especially for our Warriors they absolutely deserve to be healed so that they can live a better life and a wonderful life and enjoy everything the world has to offer,” said Oxendine.