VA looks to enhance mental health app for transitioning veterans

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The Department of Veterans Affairs wants to hear from developers capable of migrating and enhancing its existing GRIT application — a mobile platform to support military service members transitioning back to civilian life — as part of the VA’s larger mission of suicide prevention.

The VA and IBM developed the GRIT mobile app — short for Get Results in Transition — as a mental health resource for veterans as they face challenges after leaving military service and to combat the alarming rate of suicides among this population. The app allows users to “gain personal insight into their emotional well-being, provide resources to improve their individual situations, and serve as a tool to build resiliency and overall well-being using technologies which address the social determinants of health.”

After holding a five-month field test of the app late last year, the VA is interested in bringing in a vendor to migrate, host, enhance and scale it, according to a request for information released this week.

The VA says the app should focus on helping veterans with employment by:

∙ Translating their former occupational codes to civilian opportunities.
∙ Providing a place for social networking with their contacts.
∙ Supporting the mental fitness of users through games and other strategies.
∙ Developing a digital assistant-type chatbot that can “provide real-time resources including wellness, mental health, substance use and other suicide prevention resources.”

On top of this, the vendor would need to support all back-end technology — “to include any artificial intelligence, employment search capability, etc.” — and identity management, and provide customer service for users.

VA is also OK with the possibility that a completely new app might be the best solution. The RFI asks interested vendors is there is “a mobile application capable of meeting the above requirements for use on both the Android & iOS devices that is currently available,” and how much it might cost.

VA will accept responses to the RFI until March 4. The department may call on those vendors for in-person or over-the-phone briefings.

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artificial intelligence (AI), Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), health care, IBM, mental health, mobile apps, veterans
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