JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va. – During these unprecedented times of COVID-19 and increased isolation among personnel, the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command re-launched a smartphone app designed in 2013 that provides resources for the prevention of suicide with a few simple pushes of a button.
TRADOC’s “WeCare” app is location/post specific, and it supports the Army’s Suicide Prevention Campaign. It serves as a 24/7 ready resource for those feeling alone and considering suicide, or for those who are concerned about someone and are trying to intervene. The app also provides instructions for reporting sexual assault, and has other useful embedded tools.
"The Army truly cares about its Soldiers. Anytime we have a loss, or an attempt at suicide, it rattles us to the core," said Lt. Gen. Ted Martin, deputy commanding general, TRADOC. "Every Soldier is a member of our team, and they're important on so many levels. They're our family, and we want to ensure they know that. If they're feeling down, or heaven forbid suicidal, it's OK to ask for help. The TRADOC WeCare App is another tool in the kit that can provide that help. It's so easy to download, every Soldier or family member of a Soldier should have it on their phone."
Soldiers, civilian employees, family members, or friends are encouraged to download the app designed with local resources. The app is free and available to anyone. Instead of wondering "what should I have done," the app lets you know “here's what I should do.”
One of the concerns the Army has with increased isolation (caused by telework or quarantine due to the Coronavirus Pandemic) is what might happen to a person's sense of belonging. While the tool has been available for years, TRADOC decided now was the perfect time to once again raise awareness for its use within the force.
The creation of the app began at Fort Lee, Virginia, then became the standard for all TRADOC installations. Some non-TRADOC installations also wanted apps created for their locations, and to date, there are 86 WeCare apps for stations inside and outside the continental United States. Currently there are more than 100,000 users on Apple devices and approximately 30,000 users on Android devices.
Matt MacLaughlin, the division chief of TRADOC Mobile, which falls under Army University, said the simplicity of the app is very important not only for user interaction, but also in times of crisis. If the app had too many drop down options, someone in crisis might give up during their attempt to seek help.
“I grew up with the Army and I understand the physical and emotional struggles tied to war and being a Soldier,” MacLaughlin said. “It is important to me to give back to the Army, families, and each and every Soldier. I was honored to be part of the development of this app, and to lead a team of developers who find the mission of Soldier support as important as I do.”
To ensure the phone numbers and information within the apps are current and accurate, annual reviews are performed with each installation’s Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention Office.
Since re-launching the WeCare App August 1, 2020, the app has been downloaded approximately 1,500 times.
MacLaughlin said any Army installation not currently using a TRADOC WeCare App can request one through the “contact us” option on their website.
Find the full suite of TRADOC WeCare Apps and more on the Apple App Store for IOS, the Google Play Store for Android, or at the TRADOC App Gateway.