Battle Buddy

2021 - Present
Project Leaders: Sharon Mozgai, Albert “Skip” Rizzo, and Arno Hartholt

In response to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ Mission Daybreak Challenge, a 10-year strategy to end Veteran suicide through a comprehensive, public health approach, the MedVR and Integrated Virtual Humans teams at ICT proposed the Battle Buddy application. This project is an extension of the team’s previous Army-funded research that promotes engagement with a virtual human-led mobile mental health and wellness application. The interactive, embodied conversational agent leverages content related to the VA’s Suicide Safety Planning program embedded within brief daily check-ins with Veterans. The virtual human will also allow Veterans to opt-in to connect their wearable sensors to the app, leveraging sleep, exercise and other sensed signals to their overall well-being.

This effort extends upon USC ICT’s collaboration with SoldierStrong that has resulted in the free distribution of USC ICT’s Virtual Reality PTSD Exposure Therapy system (BRAVEMIND) across the VA health network. SoldierStrong provides revolutionary technology, innovative advancements and educational opportunities to veterans to better their lives and the lives of their families.

This work is highly relevant to VA priorities as U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Denis McDonough, has stated, “There is nothing more important to the VA than preventing Veteran suicide—it’s our top clinical priority.”

For more information on Battle Buddy, please contact the project PI, Sharon Mozgai, at: