EL PASO COUNTY, Colo. — UCHealth has been chosen to lead a grant-funded veteran suicide-prevention program that can serve up to 700 veterans and their family members per year.

Services for the program, also known as ‘Next Chapter,’ will include therapy, counseling, help finding employment and access to housing support at no cost. The program will also be contracting with therapists in the community who understand and are knowledgeable about military life.

“This is a no-cost, stigma free program. Come ask. Let us help you,” said Damian McCabe, the director of behavioral health-military affairs for UCHealth. “People don’t get help because they think they can’t afford it. We’re going to take that barrier away.”

Next Chapter was created from Colorado Senate Bill 129, which called for the creation of a program specifically to address veteran suicides in El Paso County. In 2020, an average of one veteran died by suicide each week in the county, according to a press release from UC Health.

“There can be risk factors for suicide when a person transitions from military life,” said McCabe, who leads a UCHealth team of clinicians who are also veterans. “…This program is aimed at supporting them [veterans] and empowering them to move forward, and to let them know there is help and there are resources available and that they can move into their next chapter of life.”

Program services are eligible for not only veterans, but also their family members. There are no exclusions based on discharge status or when or where a veteran may have served. Services are available for those newly transitioning from the military after a few years of service to those who made the military their career.

“If we can provide veterans with the help they need by providing stabilizing services, we can avoid crisis situations,” said McCabe.

Veterans can easily access UCHealth services online at www.nextchapterco.org or by calling 1-888-719-VETS. If you are a veteran in crisis, help is available now: Call 1-800-273-8255, then press 1. Or text 838255 for online chat support.  

The program is in partnership with the Colorado Behavioral Health Administration. Other key partners include Mt. Carmel Veterans Service Center and Colorado Springs NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) in support of family members.