Colorado launches new online suicide prevention resource for vets

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(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Betsy Knapper/Released)

REMOTE– Colorado is launching an online platform focused on veteran suicide prevention called Operation Veteran Strong, intended to help connect veterans to the right national and local resources at the right time for self-awareness, resilience and development of positive mental health.

Although veterans make up nearly 10% of the population, 17% of all suicides in Colorado are veterans, and the suicide rate among veterans is more than double the rate of non-veterans.

Created by Grit Digital Health – a Denver-based behavioral health technology company, www.OperationVeteranStrong.org provides veterans and their communities access to critical, potentially life-saving online tools. Operation Veteran Strong is available for free to all veterans and their loved ones. 

“As a psychologist, I firmly believe that it’s not enough to only provide care to those who seek it. We have to find creative ways to connect veterans with resources to build resilience and prevent downstream mental health challenges. We are incredibly proud to provide this essential tool for our service members – ensuring they have the right mental health and well-being tools to navigate a successful transition the days, months, and years post-service,” said Nathaan Demers, vice president of Clinical Programs and Strategic Partnerships at Grit Digital Health. 

In 2018, Colorado convened a multidisciplinary, cross-agency group called the Colorado Governor’s Challenge to Prevent Suicide Among Service Members, Veterans, and their Families. Cross-agency support and funding from this group help support the launch of this new online platform.

Courtesy of Operation Veteran Strong.

Operation Veteran Strong leads with videos of veteran stories and testimonials. Hearing a story from another veteran about strength and resilience can oftentimes be the difference between beginning the journey to getting the right help or not. 

The platform also features resources on key topics that veterans asked for such as career, employment opportunities, education, relationships, family, transportation, housing, food, veteran benefit connections, and more. Veterans can also connect with localized resources right in their own community when they need them, as county-level resources are continually being updated and added.

“Veterans, servicemembers and their families have been a priority focus for suicide prevention efforts in Colorado,” Sarah Brummett, director of the Office of the Suicide Prevention at Colorado Department of Health and Environment, said. “The launch of this Colorado resource represents one tool for communities, families, and individuals to promote health and well-being and to connect with veteran-specific resources in our state.”

State Office of Suicide Prevention funding supported the build-out of regional and statewide resources, as well as additional resources in six priority counties in Colorado. The National Veterans Health Administration’s Office of Rural Health is funding an evaluation of the site and tailored portal assistance and dissemination within rural Colorado communities.

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