Wreaths adorn the grave markers at Sackets Harbor Military Cemetery. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, an average of 20 Veterans die by suicide every day, six of whom are nominally under Veteran Health Administration care and 14 who are not.

Clear Path for Veterans in Chittenango is one of seven nonprofit organizations and city government groups that will exclusively participate in Operation Deep Dive, a community-based Veteran suicide prevention study led by America’s Warrior Partnership and University of Alabama researchers with support from the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation.

“This is a unique opportunity for us to partner on a national four-year research study that will dive deep into the factors and potential causes of suicide and early mortality due to self-harm among the Veteran population,” said Alex Behm, Clear Path for Veterans’ chief operations officer. “The mission of Clear Path is to ensure that our Veterans are holistically supported in all of their physical and emotional needs, regardless of era served or discharge status.

“We believe the breadth of this study – to include veterans with honorable discharge, entry level separation, general discharge, other than honorable conditions discharge, bad conduct discharge, officer discharge and dishonorable discharge – fits with that mission of serving all veterans.”

Clear Path for Veterans will be joined by new study participants: the Tristate Veterans Community Alliance in Cincinnati, Veteran Recovery Resources in Mobile, Ala., Combined Arms in Houston, Veterans Bridge Home in Charlotte, N.C., and the city governments of Indianapolis and Las Vegas.

“Since launching Operation Deep Dive a year ago, we have received a tremendous response from within the original communities where the study is currently being conducted,” said Jim Lorraine, president and CEO of America’s Warrior Partnership. “Suicide prevention is a critical public health issue, so we greatly appreciate the support of our partners in expanding the scope of this project. We welcome the expertise of these seven new community groups, and we look forward to working together in guiding the development of more effective outreach and prevention programs nationwide.”

Each of the participating organizations will lead the creation of a community action team, which will consist of local medical examiners, coroners, veteran-serving organizations, civic leaders, veterans and their families and caregivers. These community action teams will work with University of Alabama researchers to shape, review and direct the
project within their region.

“This project’s unique approach of building local teams to work with national researchers promises to provide new insights into the community factors that affect Veterans and their families,” said John Damonti, president of the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation. “Expanding Operation Deep Dive to these seven new communities will ensure the project’s results are as comprehensive as possible.”

Operation Deep Dive is the first research endeavor to assess the effects that community environments have on the potential factors of suicides among Veterans. Conducted in two phases, the first phase included a five-year retrospective investigation of the impact of less-than-honorable discharges on Veterans, as well as the differences in suicide rates between those who received and did not receive support services from the U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs.

During the second phase of the study, researchers will analyze information gathered by the Community Action Teams along with data from national sources, such as the Department of Veterans Affairs and United Way Worldwide, to identify trends, patterns and potential indicators of suicide. Results will ultimately guide the development of proactive, holistic prevention and outreach programs to reduce suicide and self-harm among Veterans.

In addition to these seven new communities, Operation Deep Dive is currently being conducted in Atlanta; Orange County, Calif.; Buffalo; Minneapolis, Minn.; the Panhandle region of Florida; and Greenville and Charleston, S.C.

For more information about Clear Path for Veterans, visit ClearPath4Vets.com. For more information on Operation Deep Dive, visit AmericasWarriorPartnership.org/Deep-Dive.

By martha

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