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VA awards $20 million to 10 organizations to help prevent veteran suicides

The Veterans Administration Thursday announced 10 winners in its $20 million Mission Daybreak Grand Challenge to reduce veteran suicides. Pictured is a Veteran's Day celebration before the Los Angeles Rams vs the Arizona Cardinals at SoFi Stadium November 13, in Inglewood, Calif. Photo by Jon SooHoo/UPI
1 of 2 | The Veterans Administration Thursday announced 10 winners in its $20 million Mission Daybreak Grand Challenge to reduce veteran suicides. Pictured is a Veteran's Day celebration before the Los Angeles Rams vs the Arizona Cardinals at SoFi Stadium November 13, in Inglewood, Calif. Photo by Jon SooHoo/UPI | License Photo

Feb. 16 (UPI) -- The Department of Veteran's Affairs on Thursday announced 10 winners in its $20 million Mission Daybreak Grand Challenge to reduce veteran suicides. More than 1,300 submissions were made by various organizations and individuals with ideas on promising suicide prevention solutions.

Two first-place winners -- Soldier Suicide's Black Box Project and Televeda's Project Hózhó -- will get $3 million each.

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According to the VA, the Black Box Project uses technology to identify and analyze data from digital devices of veterans who died by suicide to develop machine learning models that can identify never-before-known risk patterns.

Combining that with evidence-based, suicide-specific intervention services, the VA said, will accelerate precision methodologies in veteran suicide prevention.

Project Hózhó was described by the VA as "the first mental health app and comprehensive operational plan for American Indian and Alaska Native populations."

"Our Veterans need and deserve suicide prevention solutions that meet them where they are, rather than taking a one-size-fits-all approach, and that's exactly what Mission Daybreak has delivered," said VA Under Secretary for Health Shereef Elnahal, M.D. in a statement. "By drawing on a range of focus areas and life experiences, the Mission Daybreak winners have developed innovations that will save Veterans lives -- and there's nothing more important than that."

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The second-place winners will each get $1 million. They are:

  • ReflexAI is an artificial intelligence-powered tool that can help the Veterans Crisis Line train and maintain a team of responders that can meet the needs of every Veteran who reaches out, according to the VA.
  • Sentinel is a mobile app that integrates smart firearm and medication locking devices to help prevent suicides.
  • Battle Buddy is a "virtual human-led mental health and wellness application that promotes resiliency among Veterans at risk for suicide." The VA said it will use content from VA's Suicide Safety Planning program during brief daily check-ins with Veterans.

The five third-place winners will receive $500,000 each.

They include:

  • Even Health's Cabana, a virtual group support platform for veterans who have survived a suicide attempt.
  • NeuroFlow, a tech platform offering veterans tailored resources and digital care 24/7.Overwatch Project, a peer-based intervention program that helps veterans intervene with at-risk veteran friends.
  • OxfordVR's gameChange, described by the VA as a "digital therapeutic" that treats severe social isolation, PTSD and severe depression.
  • And Team Guidehouse's data platform, which integrates social determinants of health and social media into the health record to identify at-risk veterans in real time.

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