While post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a society-wide issue, members of America’s veteran community are some of the hardest hit by this condition. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), about 30% of Vietnam veterans have had PTSD, and between 11% and 20% of those who served in Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom suffer from PTSD. One VA study estimates that the annual cost of treating PTSD in the U.S. — including veteran and non-veteran communities — is over $230 billion. And so a free digital therapeutic (DTx) for PTSD meets a pressing need.

This was the impetus behind the gaming studio 2B3B’s decision to create their VRx PTSD virtual therapy, a metaverse experience designed to treat PTSD and its related complications, including addiction. Free of charge, veterans can enter the virtual world using a personalized avatar and connect with mental health professionals for real-time interactions. Beyond this one-on-one therapy, the VR experience offers therapeutic mini-games and opportunities to connect with other veterans to hang out and watch movies, play arcade games, and more. What about the cost of those pricey VR headsets? The non-profit Forge Forward Project has an initiative to provide headsets to veterans for free.

The VR experience draws inspiration from smart cities, which use Internet of Things (IoT) technology to improve municipal services and the quality of life for their citizens. To do this, urban areas — Singapore is a prime example — gather data from an array of interconnected devices — including the mobile devices of residents — to help manage everything from transportation systems, traffic, and power plants to water resources, crime detection, and more. The 2B3D team asked, “What would this look like in the metaverse, with one of their primary concerns being mental health?”

It’s no coincidence that 2B3D has focused on the needs of veterans; more than half of the members of the 2B3D team served in the military, and the company actively recruits former service members. 2B3D’s Lead Strategic Planner Gordon Dodson, who is also a veteran, says, “We believe every veteran who suffers from a mental health condition should be provided the hardware, software, and free access to such resources so that when an event occurs, immediate access to effective treatment is available for them.” 2B3D CEO Robert Bell adds, “We are part of the veteran family and will not stop until we win this fight.”