Military Mental Health: There's an App (and Money) For ThatTwo good pieces of good news came out of the military this week — especially for soldiers and veterans who are facing mental health concerns.

The first is the Monday announcement by Pentagon officials of a free smart phone application for Android devices designed to help soldiers and veterans to track their emotional health. It’s called the T2 Mood Tracker (from the National Center for Telehealth and Technology) is available free free download now. (The iPhone app is in the works.)

It’s basically a mood tracker, allowing users to track their mood, happiness and stress levels throughout the day. Anyone can download and use the app, free of charge.

The second piece of good news is the announcement that the U.S. Army will spend $17 million over 3 years to study suicide in solders and vets.

The money will be used to fund a new program called the Military Suicide Research Consortium. The hope is that the researchers will be able to better identify the risks and ways of better addressing the rising suicide rates in the U.S. military.

“In the civilian world, we know a bit about what measures do a good job of identifying at-risk individuals. We don’t know that for active duty military,” VA researcher Peter Gutierrez told KUNC radio. Gutierrez will be the co-director of the new Consortium at the Denver VA Medical Center.

Suicide rates remain higher than ever before in the military, due in part to the seemingly never-ending dual wars still being waged in Iraq and Afghanistan. Returning soldiers also complain about the stigma associated with obtaining mental health services while in combat, and the impact such care has not only on their reputation, but also their security clearance.

This news is timely. Next week I’ll be in Atlanta again for the annual Carter Center Symposium on Mental Health Policy. Guess what the topic if this year’s Symposium is? Helping returning National Guard and Reservists with their re-integration into society and access to needed mental health care. Stay tuned.