Blesma has launched a new free app, Blesma Connects, that aims to encourage its global membership to create an online community for updates, activities, engagement and support.
The free app was created with Blesma by creative agency, Way To Blue and developed by The Project Factory - its global digital arm.
Announcing the project, The Project Factory said depression, isolation and PTSD are issues that plague ex-Armed forces personnel globally and the challenge is to maintain ongoing transitional support for former serving personnel for mental, physical and social health.
And the company cites a recent study from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare which found that there were over 419 suicides in serving, reserve and ex-serving Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel who have served since 2001 - and that these incidents were significantly higher for ex-serving men and women.
According to The Project Factory, the statistics are echoed globally and in the UK loneliness and isolation impacts one in four ex-Armed Forces personnel, with Blesma members ranging from younger to older veterans - and maintaining their quality of life, keeping active, reducing isolation and helping them call on support when necessary are all a key part of keeping the Blesma member community connected.
Blesma Connects has been built exclusively for its members only and will allow them to keep up to date with relevant news, join activities with other Blesma members and their families, hear about new routes to secure medical support and grants, connect to other Blesma members and easily access the welfare counselling Blesma provides.
“Understanding the unique social, physical and broader needs for military service men and women globally is essential to assisting veterans to maintain a satisfying and rich life after service,” said The Project Factory’s Jennifer Wilson, who was executive producer on the app.
“Online technologies allow for powerful peer to peer community engagement and support which is fundamental to creating and maintaining communities that allow veterans to self-manage their wellbeing, interests and mental health. We are very proud to be associated with this wellness initiative.”
The decision to launch Blesma Connects comes following a six-month research and an 18-month development program during which members, Blesma’s staff and support officers stated that they would value more frequent updates from the charity along with more opportunities to connect with other members.
Blesma Operations Director and Interim Chief Executive, Ian Waller, said, “No one really understands a military person quite like a fellow comrade, so creating connections and comradeship are two important objectives for us at Blesma to combat loneliness and social isolation”.
“After speaking with a variety of our members from 19-year-old veterans to 95-year-old widows during the last 18 months, we know our members need a tool that will enable them to build friendships with those who have shared similar experiences within their local communities. I’m looking forward to hearing how our Members, particularly our silver soldiers, will respond to the new Blesma Connects app and supporting sessions.”
Blesma Connects is now available globally to members to download from both the Google Play and Apple app stores.