Updated: Apr 25, 2022
The veteran-owned and operated nonprofit Forge Forward Project, headquartered in American Fork, Utah, is now seeking qualified volunteers to help save veteran lives, as of January 14, 2022.
According to the Forge Forward Project’s mission statement, found on their website, an integral part of their mission is to save veteran lives through community building.
Veterans who have seen combat or feel isolated are the most vulnerable to thoughts of suicide, according to the 2021 National Veteran Suicide Prevention Annual Report by the Office of Mental Health and Suicide Prevention. While doing 22 pushups a day has helped raise awareness about veteran suicide rates, members of the Forge Forward Project believe there is a better way.
“Instead of 22 pushups, what if we simply reached out and connected with one at-risk veteran?” asked Bric Simpson, CEO and founder of the Forge Forward Project.
“Our organization is owned and operated by veterans dedicated to helping our fellow vets with the best resources available,” Simpson said. “Not only do we help veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder in virtual reality, but we also provide resources for managing the day-to-day stressors we all experience, from marriage and relationship counseling, to financial education.”
Simpson refers to those who volunteer as the “Forge Army.”
“If you have the time, skills, or passion, please join our dedicated team of professionals to support veterans in need. Also, we like to have fun in virtual reality.”
Those who volunteer for the Forge Army can be identified by the Forge Forward Project’s lifestyle apparel. Volunteers receive a special discount code for 50 percent off a special Forge Army snapback hat.
The Forge Army is composed of individuals from all walks of life, the project is currently seeking:
Fellow veterans from all branches of service
Former law enforcement or emergency responders
“We want to put VR headsets preloaded with lifesaving software into the hands of as many veterans as possible,” Simpson explained. “To do that, we need to build a brand and a community of like-minded individuals who have that brother/sisterhood mindset, unique to our military.”
The Forge Forward Project’s proprietary VR software for saving veteran lives was developed in partnership with California tech company 2B3D Inc., With this software preloaded on Oculus Quest II headsets, veterans can step into soothing virtual environments integrated with neurocognitive games designed by neuroscientists and neuropsychologists to increase blood flow to the brain and jumpstart the healing process.
Additionally, veterans will be able to use this same VR software to meet with crisis response managers, mental health therapists, or close friends in a safe, virtual space, from anywhere in the world.
According to Simpson, those who volunteer will primarily assist with veteran outreach, wilderness therapy, career counseling, and socialization through gaming.
Those who wish to volunteer for the Forge Army and help save veteran lives can fill out a form on their website: https://forgeforwardproject.org/volunteer/