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5/8/2012
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DOD Mobile App Eases Transition To Civilian Life

Department of Defense expands menu of apps that aim to help military personnel deal with social situations and health issues.

14 Most Popular Government Mobile Apps
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The Department of Defense on Tuesday released a mobile app to help returning soldiers adjust to civilian life by dealing with the lack of structure that can bedevil them.

The app, called Positive Activity Jackpot, was developed by the DOD's National Center for Telehealth & Technology, or T2, which evaluates, builds, and tests technologies to help service personnel recover and maintain health after returning home.

Available for Android devices, the new app uses a phone's camera and GPS capability to find and recommend nearby activities. The user chooses from a list of options such as sporting events, eating out, or shopping, and whom to invite from his or her contact list. The user can pull a lever on the app's slot-machine to randomly generate an activity, giving the app its name.

Positive Activity Jackpot is based on the concept of pleasant event scheduling, a behavioral therapy method to help people build resilience and overcome depression, according to T2. An eight-page clinician's guide to the app is available for health professionals.

[ Federal IT managers are doing more with less. Read 10 Lessons From Leading Government CIOs. ]

Service members returning from combat "are used to a more structured daily schedule [and] may have difficulty adjusting to life at home," Dr. Amanda Edwards Stewart, a psychologist who led development of Positive Activity Jackpot, told DOD's Armed With Science blog. "This can lead to difficulties with relationships, depression and other problems."

The app is the latest in a growing number of mobile apps designed to help military personnel deal with a variety of health issues and social situations. Other apps from the National Center for Telehealth & Technology include a mood tracker and a pocket guide for mild traumatic brain injuries. The Air Force recently released a mobile Web app called Virtual Wingman, and the Army issued an app for wounded warriors.

The Air Force's Air Education and Training Command created Virtual Wingman as a way of providing information and help to on-the-go airmen and airwomen. The app provides information on suicide prevention and motorcycle safety, for example, and a phone number for calling a taxi.

"We want to continue to innovate in how we reach our airmen so we can drive our mishap rates down to historical lows," said Master Sgt. Kyle Baum with AETC Ground Safety Division, in a statement by the Air Education and Training Command.

And in March, the DOD's Sustainment Center of Excellence introduced a smartphone app for wounded warriors. Available for iPhones and Android devices, it's based on a DOD guide called "The Wounded, Ill, and Injured Compensation and Benefits Handbook." The app answers questions about medical care, pay and allowances during recovery, disability compensation, and other benefits.

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