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Utah veterans develop VR program to help soldiers cope with PTSD

Nov 16, 2021, 10:18 PM | Updated: Nov 17, 2021, 6:44 am

AMERICAN FORK, Utah — A group of Utah veterans is using virtual reality to fight PTSD. They believe the technology can play a key role in helping their fellow soldiers.

Brenden Borrowman spent four and a half years in the army. “I believe any human being who has seen trauma, there is going to be an aspect of that in their life no matter what,” he said.

He and Bric Simpson, who is still with the Utah National Guard say they are engaged in another fight at home.

“I’ve spent 23 years in the military, and I’ve always known I wanted to do something to give back,” Simpson said. “We could find a way, a solution through virtual reality where veterans could get help now.”

Simpson founded Forge Forward, a non-profit aimed at helping combat veterans through virtual reality. So far, They’ve raised money through selling shirts, belts, and men’s hygiene products.

But they say all of it is done with the goal of getting people through some of their toughest moments.

“One of the best things you can do is take somebody out of that current environment that they are in,” Simpson said. “Well, that’s really hard to do physically, right?”

They teamed up with a tech company called 2B3d, to create VRx, which can take the user to calming environments to talk virtually with a therapist. They can also play games, designed to relieve stress.

“Whereas you would normally do that with an occupational therapist in 30 minutes with handheld puzzles, and tactile kind of guided therapy,” said Borrowman.

Borrowman and Simpson say they believe it could save lives.

“If you take them out of that first five minutes of crisis, we already know that we have a giant success track record of being able to pull a veteran out of a suicide ideology by just affecting the first five minutes,” said Borrowman.

“We believe we are going to end veteran suicide,” said Simpson.

“It’s been a decade, I’ve lost 63 friends,” said Borrowman. “I’ve lost more friends to suicide than our entire unit lost in ten years of combat.”

“We put so much money into training and fighting the enemy, we have to true avenue to help these guys when they get out.”

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Utah veterans develop VR program to help soldiers cope with PTSD