It’s been four decades since our last troops returned home from the war in Vietnam. Many who served still struggle to cope with undiagnosed and untreated Post-Traumatic Stress (PTS) symptoms. In 2014 over 60,000 new Vietnam-era Veterans came forward to seek help, nearly as many as those who served in the Afghan and Iraq conflicts. Trauma focused exposure therapy approaches are a proven success in treating survivors to cope years after the trauma occurred. We owe Vietnam Veterans access to this treatment. Their call for help demands our attention and requires a response.
Our mission is to help our Vietnam Veterans cope with their war traumas via a Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy system tailored specifically for the sights, sounds, and conditions they encountered.
Our goal is to raise the $500,000 dollars needed to add a virtual Vietnam to the existing successful virtual Iraq/Afghanistan system and make it freely available to clinicians across the United States within eight months.
In 2004, we developed a Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy system to help Veterans from the Afghan and Iraq conflicts cope with their PTS symptoms. And today, our arid, desert-like virtual world is deployed in over 75 clinics nationwide and continues to successfully help Veterans of those conflicts. But Vietnam was a vastly different experience. To help Vietnam Veterans, we need to create a whole new virtual world. One designed specifically for the conditions, sights, and sounds of their Vietnam experience.
We built a rough proof of concept virtual Vietnam and gave some Vietnam veterans the opportunity to experience a small subset of the system we envision. They couldn't believe the vividness of their memories and the reality of the immersive experience. They were hopeful we could finish the project and make it available to all Veterans.
We know Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy is a successfully proven method for treating PTS. We know how to help our Vietnam Veterans; create a system specifically for their experience and make it freely available to clinicians. We just need the funding.
What Is Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy
Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy, or VRET, immerses survivors in a virtual world created to evoke the sights, sounds, and conditions of the real world environment that caused the onset of their symptoms. In the safety of a therapist's care, the survivors relive the traumatic events and over time learn to cope. VRET is based on the proven traditional Prolonged Exposure Therapy methodologies and offer clinicians another tool in the treatment of patients.
Why Vietnam, Why Now
As the average age of Vietnam Veterans reaches 65 and they experience major life events such as retirement, deaths of civilian family and friends, and children leaving home, their Post-Traumatic Stress symptoms are skyrocketing.
It’s been nearly four decades since the end of the Vietnam War, yet new research indicates that an estimated 283,000 Vietnam Veterans still suffer from their war experiences. But it’s never too late to get help.
Who We Are
At the University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies (ICT), leaders in the artificial intelligence, graphics, virtual reality and narrative communities are working to advance immersive techniques and technologies to solve problems facing service members, students, and society.
Dr. Skip Rizzo, Director for Medical Virtual Reality at ICT, partnered with internationally renowned PTS experts: Barbara Rothbaum, JoAnn Difede, Chris Reist, Mike Roy, and Greg Reger to pioneer a revolutionary Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy, or VRET, system called Bravemind. Built specifically for Veterans from the Afghan and Iraq Conflicts to cope with PTS and other combat related symptoms, this highly successful therapy has been utilized since 2004 in over 75 sites including Military bases, VA medical centers, and University clinics across the United States.
Our ICT Bravemind Development Team, led by Arno Hartholt, brings almost a century of combined experience in the animation, programming, design, and gaming industries.
To learn more about the work of our lab in this area, please go to: https://www.youtube.com/user/AlbertSkipRizzo/videos
* All donations are tax deductible.