Battling PTSD with virtual reality for veterans in CNY

Local News

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Virtual reality is bringing veterans back to battle, giving the Syracuse VA another way to work with patients living with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, working to reduce the number of suicides in this community.

A donation from SoldierStrong gives 10 VA hospitals across the nation, including Syracuse, a new tool for health professionals. The goal isn’t to erase a painful memory, but to teach veterans how to learn to live with it.

The focus is on the post-9/11 generation of veterans, a generation who grew up with video games and is tech-focused. This video game, however, works to hopefully heal veterans living with painful memories from war.

It’s another form of exposure therapy, bringing a laptop and equipment to life, working through memories that trigger stress and anxiety, slowly and safely.

“It puts the veteran back into that specific situation that they’re having trouble dealing with. It could be a fort operating base, it could be a humvee on the move, you could be in a market in Afghanistan. The concept is to put you back there with nothing else around you and to start slowly layering in the situation.”

Chris Meek, Chairman & Co-Founder, SoldierStrong

It’s just the beginning, creating a baseline for therapists and other health professionals to learn from.

If this can help reduce suicide within veterans, it’s definitely something that we are embracing.

Lauren Love, Behavioral Health Services, Syracuse VA

“This is something that a therapist could take with them to another location and work out of that clinic and serve the veterans that are there with this modality,” added Love. The device can travel to Oswego, Watertown, Massena, every location connected with the Syracuse VA.

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