When Sergeant Clay Hunt left the U.S. Marine Corps in 2010 after serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, he was lonely, depressed and battling Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD). He was working as an advocate for other soldiers struck by this debilitating condition, lobbying Congress on their behalf, cycling with wounded warriors, and even appearing in PSAs discussing the issues surrounding veteran reintegration. But just months after separating from the Corps, he committed suicide, unable to handle the isolation that came with adjusting to civilian life.
At his memorial service, Jake Wood, a soldier who he’d served alongside on both tours, discovered that three other Marines from their unit lived within 15 miles of Hunt’s Houston, Texas, apartment, but no one knew he had moved there. Wood couldn’t help but think that if they had connected, their presence might have saved Hunt’s life. So he joined forces with fellow vets Anthony Allman (Chief Executive Officer) and William McNulty (Chief Expeditionary Officer) to create POS REP, a proximity-based app that uses GPS to connect veterans to each other and to resources that can help them adjust to–and thrive in–life after service. It couldn’t have come a moment too soon; the VA estimates that 22 veterans take their lives every single day.
“We’re now in our 13th year of combat operations in the global war on terrorism that has been executed with an All-Volunteer Force–there hasn’t been a draft–and the burden of war has fallen on a small segment of American society. This makes transitioning out of the military and returning to civilian life particularly challenging,” Allman, 31, explains. “POS REP allows veterans to discover and communicate with a network of peers who can relate to those unique situations. Think of it as a sacred digital space where veterans can discuss issues pertaining to reintegration without judgment.”