This week the Department of Veterans’ Affairs recognized two first-place winners of the VA’s Mission Daybreak challenge. Project Hózhó was one of the two first place prize winners, which is focused on bringing broadband services and culturally relevant mental health support to Native American reservations in the southwest United States. The prize brings with it $3 million in funding for the project’s suicide prevention efforts, which will be immediately invested into the infrastructure and mental health assistance work that the group has already begun.
While suicide prevention in the Veteran community has been a focus for years, reducing suicides year over year has been an elusive goal for policy planners and activists aiming to help. VA officials announced the number of veterans suicides in 2020 (the most recent year for which data is available) dropped to just below 17 deaths a day, the lowest rate since 2006. That still works out to more than 6,100 deaths via suicide for that year. The Mission Daybreak initiative was launched last May as a way to develop new suicide prevention strategies through a public competition. The department awarded $20 million in prizes to 40 firms in recent months, including payouts of $1 million or more to five exceptional projects recognized this week.
The nonprofit group Stop Soldier Suicide claimed the other first-place prize for its Black Box Project, which analyzes data from digital devices of veterans who died by suicide to “develop machine learning models that can identify never-before-known risk patterns.” That includes things like seeing shifts in sleeping patterns, use of more aggressive language in text messages, and other disruptions in normal habits. The goal is to find indicators of when Veterans may be facing increased stress and may be open to intervention or support services.
If you have any questions about VA benefits, the qualified Veterans’ Disability attorneys at Gardberg and Kemmerly want to help in any way possible. Gardberg and Kemmerly is committed to helping injured and disabled Veterans obtain the benefits they deserve. If you need help with a disability claim, call our office at 251-343-1111 or 800-332-1529 for a free consultation. Gardberg and Kemmerly is proud to serve Veterans across the country from our home office in Mobile, Alabama. We would love an opportunity to discuss your claim.