By Anthony Cave, News21
At the memorial for a fellow Marine, Iraq and Afghanistan combat veteran Jacob Wood happened into several Marines who he didn’t know lived nearby.
As they gathered to honor a Marine who served in combat with Wood, but committed suicide in March 2011 shortly after coming home, Wood saw the need for them to connect. That gave Wood the idea for Position Report (POS REP), a smartphone application that connects veterans via GPS to an interactive social network.
Wood hopes his app, in a test phase now with more than 4,000 users, can prevent veteran suicides. But he realizes there is no easy solution.
“It’s very complex, there is certainly not any silver bullet to the issue,” he said.
However, POS REP, in Wood’s words, “leverages technology.” It allows veterans to communicate with one another, set up events through location-based “flares” and even list their service record and awards.
Post-9/11 veteran Keith Finkle, 30, has used the app since January. Finkle, who did two tours in Iraq from 2005 to 2009, appreciates the sense of community the app brings.
He used it while finishing a bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies in the spring semester at Arizona State University.
Finkle has made initial contact with just one veteran so far, but the access itself is rewarding, he said.
“It was more of a ‘hey, here I am,’” he said. “It’s just good to know that you have that connection, it kind of validates the idea.”
And Wood hopes a federal agency feels the same way. He has shared his app in Washington, trying to garner support.
Meanwhile, Wood projects a full launch in “three to four months.” And Finkle, too, will be ready. “The content is right at the forefront of what we should be trying to do,” he said.