As a former soldier, I was alarmed to discover the rate of suicides rapidly growing amongst the Veteran community despite being so many organisations out there offering various types
In the last 2 years (2016& 2017) it has jumped to 7 suicides per month so I spent some time in-between my day job researching what services were around & available to Veterans suffering from the illnesses & injuries they had incurred during their time in the military.
As a Veteran myself diagnosed with PTSD in 2005 I am aware of the ups & downs one can face daily. Always being on constant high alert (living in that fight or flight response), night terrors and minimal sleep, the feeling of being safer in my own environment so withdrawing from society and isolating myself, just to name a few and I started to think maybe with the advancement in technology, being able to use our phones a lot more now for everyday common things, why hasn't someone looked at utilising these services to create a more user friendly virtual support network for Veterans that is available at a push of a button.
So the idea of REDSIX 'the Veterans app' was created & thus began my journey to put my idea into reality. I did the usual rounds contacting organisations from all sectors for support but was turned away or told they already have phone apps or information available but being so passionate about saving lives, even if it was just one, meant not giving in. I started to broaden my network which also meant a higher risk of someone stealing or selling off my idea but again the response was the same, every one liked the concept but no one was interested enough to offer financial support.
It wasn't until I had just about given up, well mentally I had, that I was offered a loan to cover the initial costs from someone who has witnessed all my efforts, how I had changed my life from the negative downward spiral & was also very passionate about Veterans. So I scaled back the concept a little & covered the set up costs to have it made.
REDSIX was finally put into production earlier this year & released on the
14th September 2018.
REDSIX is aimed at lowering the growing suicide rate amongst our Veteran community & it works by using your GPS location, so whenever you cross paths with other members, their profile pops up on your phone. There is a 'mood' button which you set to let others know how you are feeling, those who have indicated the 'red thumbs down' button are obviously in a bad head space & could do with a chat. You can offer to go for a walk, beer, lunch, gym etc or just direct message each other & help get them out of their bad head space. You are not there to solve their problems, just to offer assistance, explain how you deal with your illness or injury that occurred during your service or pass on details of those in your network that might be able to assist further.
Whilst you may not need the support available, you might be the connection that stops one of our defence family from giving in or giving up.
REDSIX is run by myself, an Army Veteran as well as my wife and any money made from the sale of t-shirts, hats, jumpers & merchandise is put back into the business by either donating merchandise to Veterans like our current Invictus Games athletes or other Veterans out there in an effort to remind them we're there for them and have their backs.
The Young Michael Handley
Michael & Rachel Handley