US Air Force + Moth & Flame: Using Virtual Reality to Train for What Comes After the Battle

Mental health has long been a taboo subject in the military, but recent developments in training methods and a different approach to how the military considers soldiers' mental and emotional fitness are paving the way for innovation in teaching compassion.

April 27, 2021

Moth and Flame

Moth + Flame VR is the leading provider of immersive learning experiences for enterprise scale customers across a range of verticals.


Lex Kiefhaber, Jessica Miles

Suicide and mental health are discussed at length in this episode, which could be triggering. If you, or anyone you know is struggling with mental health, the suicide prevention lifeline number is 800-273-8255.

When we first heard that the Air Force was working with the virtual reality company Moth and Flame, we were expecting something along the lines of jumping out of planes at low orbit or piloting a next-generation drone, in space. What we didn't anticipate was a conversation, intimate and at times wrenching, crafted in virtual reality and designed to evoke the emotional reaction you'd get from sitting across the kitchen table from an old friend or family member. 

The US Air Force has been working with Moth and Flame to design a scenario to prepare service members for the emotional stress of helping a brother or sister in arms who's struggling with mental health, to the point of considering suicide. Unfortunately, this is a more common experience for members of the military, and just as important to their health and safety as training for what happens down range. 

In this episode we speak with Master Sargent Shawn Dougherty, 18 year veteran, husband and father, about his experience piloting this initial roll out of the virtual reality campaign. From the VR side, Moth and Flame CEO Kevin Cornish joins us to talk about the process of building the scenarios, working with the military on something distinctly different than he had first envisioned, and the potential for VR to help us prepare for distinctly human interactions. 


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