Researchers have developed a new app they're calling a "virtual hope box" to help veterans experiencing depression and PTSD.

(Photo: Courtesy of T2)
These days, smartphone apps can be used for just about anything. 

Now there's a new app for veterans suffering from PTSD, depression and traumatic brain injury. It's called a "virtual hope box." 

Therapists have used traditional hope boxes for more than a decade to treat mental illness. Typically, it's a shoebox or a large envelope used to keep important mementos, personal photos and letters.  

The idea is that when a person is feeling sad or hopeless they can look through the contents and be reminded of the positive aspects of their lives.  

The virtual hope box does the same thing except the information is stored electronically, making it accessible in more situations.

Researchers from the National Center for Telehealth and Technology in Washington state, which is part of the Department of Defense, developed the technology as part of the center's mission to improve the mental health of veterans. 

Researchers have already done a preliminary study with veterans and got positive results. Now they're expanding it to a larger group of veterans.

And researchers say it's not just for veterans. They plan to roll out a free app this spring for anyone who wants to try it, which could include some of the more than 400,000 veterans in Colorado.