CHARLOTTE, N.C. (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) - A new technology is working to prevent veteran suicides, and aims to be a lifeline for those who've served when they need it.
“There’s military in my blood line,” explained Dana Draa. Her commitment to this country runs deep. Her grandmother was a Marine in World War II. Her father served in Vietnam. At 17, Dana joined the Navy and spent time in the Mediterranean during Desert Storm.
While she no longer wears a uniform she works closely with veterans every day at the VA in Charlotte. She knows the struggles many who serve or have served live with and knows veterans who have died by suicide.
“It impacts you tremendously. Loss is what we deal with in our community as a whole but that toll is so resounding and large that it shakes us to our core,” explained Draa who also lost a friend to suicide. “We have a lot of hurting and need in the veteran community. There are a lot of wonderful programs, but there are gaps."
Wanting to do more outside of her nine to five job she started Dog Tag Technologies.
“Dana has this idea and she wants to detect when a weapon is moved so we can notify a friend,” said TJ Emsley who also served in the Navy.
Emsley worked with electronics in the Navy and is an IT specialist. Up for the challenge, he set out to build what Draa envisioned.
When a weapon is placed on the guard dog pad and it is picked up an alert text message or email is sent to a friend or anyone who has been programed into the system. The device is web enabled.
The message makes it easy to dial the phone number of the person who may need to talk to someone right away.
“It’s got to provide some peace of mind,” said Emsley who loves that technology can be used to help others.
On average about 20 current or former service members take their lives each day according to data from the Department of Veterans Affairs.
“I’m continually working for my brothers and sisters in arms,” said Draa. For the Navy veteran the technology is not about politics but personal. She hopes it can be used as one of many tools to help those who are struggling.
The team has identified a manufacturer and hopes to roll out the product later this year. If you’d like more information visit dogtagtechnologies.net.