Mission Daybreak is a contest that is open to the public and it is an attempt to get great new ideas in how to stop the national crisis that is Veteran suicide. Mission Daybreak is part of VA’s 10-year strategy to end Veteran suicide through a comprehensive, public health approach. There is $20 million worth of prize money handed out with nothing really coming back in return. What follows are the Mission Daybreak’s Top Three Worst Winning Ideas, but first, a little about the money being wasted.
Mission Daybreak’s Phase 1 awarded $8.5 million: 30 finalists each received $250,000 and advance to the Phase 2 accelerator, where they will gain exclusive access to tailored resources. An additional 10 teams each received a Promise Award of $100,000.
Mission Daybreak’s Phase 2 will award $11.5 million: Two first-place winners will each receive $3 million, three second-place winners will each receive $1 million, and five third-place winners will each receive $500,000.
To be honest, we submitted an idea to Mission Daybreak and the VA. Both were based on science and using emerging and proven mental health drugs and techniques. During the discovery phase of the contest, this author asked the panel if PTSD abatement using ketamine-assisted psychotherapy was in their field of view. No answer was given. It was ignored. From the softball examples they tossed out as past winning ideas, it was clear that they were playing the game and not wanting to get their hands dirty. Meanwhile, hundreds of Veterans will not be using their ideas. Our idea have already proven to save lives and change the Veteran families for the better.
Here are Mission Daybreak’s Top Three Worst Winning Ideas, but they all will have very little real world impact on slowing down Veteran suicide and none of them address the root cause: PTSD. You will notice a pattern of technology used to identify at-risk Veterans.
NUMBER ONE USELESS MISSION DAYBREAK AWARD WINNER: Code of Support Foundation
Code of Support Foundation operates PATRIOTlink.org, which ensures members of the military, Veterans, their spouses, caregivers, and families receive the resources and support they have earned through their service and sacrifice. PATRIOTlink.org is a free cloud-based targeted resource navigation platform that ensures Veterans at risk for suicide get the support they need by connecting them with thousands of curated, vetted, and verified direct services.
Why It Is Useless: This one wins our Most Useless of the Useless Award. Why? It’s a referral service to other agencies!
NUMBER TWO USELESS MISSION DAYBREAK AWARD WINNER: BioMojo, LLC.
BioMojo creates integrated extended reality (XR) software and hardware solutions to improve performance, decision-making, knowledge management, resilience, safety, and mission-critical task execution for human operators in high consequence environments. In partnership with Veteran correctional leaders, correctional staff, justice-involved Veterans, health professionals, researchers, and technical and creative experts, the solution will employ cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) within interactive role-play and immersive decompression XR-based scenarios to support Veterans living and working in prison.
Why It Is Useless: Its only good in prisons!
NUMBER THREE USELESS MISSION DAYBREAK AWARD WINNER: Cogitativo
Cogitativo is a leading augmented intelligence company with a mission to create and implement innovative, scalable solutions to the most complex challenges facing the healthcare system. Their machine learning platform, Visión, captures large sets of unique data points, including audio and visual data, to produce digital biomarkers. These digital biomarkers provide an unprecedented capability to better identify those who are at risk of suicide and enable early-stage and personalized interventions by augmenting VA’s existing REACH VET platform.
Why It Is Useless: It uses the VA’s REACH VET platform and, is, you guessed it, a referral program!
To be fair, all of these ideas are next to useless because they don’t address the root cause, they only treat the symptom.
Here are the rest of Mission Daybreak 30 Finalists and 10 Promise Award recipients – All of which are non-root cause based wastes of money.
Continued Service Network
Developed by a team of clinicians, researchers, and Veterans, the Continued Service Network (CSN) is a Veteran-led crowdsourcing technology that leverages the power of collective Veteran experience and passive unobtrusive behavioral sampling to yield personalized, just-in-time nudge interventions. The solution supports a consensus-generating platform where Veterans and Veteran family members share information on the skills, treatments, and resources that worked best for them. An AI recommendation engine leverages data derived from Veterans’ participation to provide personalized, just-in-time nudge interventions.
Founded by a retired Israeli Defense Force officer who later obtained a PhD in Psychology from Stanford University, Early Alert is currently deployed at educational and medical institutions serving tens of thousands of individuals, including Veterans. Early Alert is revolutionizing suicide prevention by focusing on upstream prevention of suicidality through proactive weekly SMS check-ins, identification of Veterans in early distress, and instant activation of VA and community support resources, including the Veteran Crisis Line. Using population-level analytics, Early Alert empowers data-guided wellness policies and transfer of innovation across institutions.
Even Health is a mental health company solving access, trust, and stigma challenges unique to healthcare professionals and military communities. Using an innovative virtual reality (VR)-based group support platform called Cabana®, Even Health will deliver virtual group support for Veterans who have survived a suicide attempt. The solution uses an established support group model shown to reduce suicide and associated factors as well as increase resilience and belongingness.
EverMind’s digital health solutions use technology funded by NASA to expand access to effective mental healthcare with an AI-powered Digital Human Therapist™ that recreates the warmth and support of an expert therapist in a scalable format. The Veteran Edition of EverMind’s ePST® solution will integrate Veteran-centered design and additional suicide prevention strategies with problem-solving therapy, an approach that resonates with the military mindset. Accessible anywhere, anytime, it will help fill gaps in access to this evidence-based suicide prevention intervention across the care continuum.
GUIDE is a revolutionary concept in addressing suicide risk factors by empowering Warriors to master their lives, unleash their highest potential, and thrive in any environment. The solution uses a daily practice method based on personal development, positive psychology, and transformational learning in an anonymous mobile app leveraging peer support, Warrior to Warrior.
HERMTAC MAIL, located on the campus of University of Texas at Dallas, is a Lab 2 Market Frontier Tech Systems Integrator for public good that has won several national innovation awards. HERMTAC’s Marketing, AI & Learning program tackles suicide across all time domains in the two Alaskan counties with over double the next highest suicide rate, building culturally modifiable tools and frameworks expandable beyond Alaskan natives. The solution utilizes a three-pronged approach, with culturally-tailored marketing campaigns to reduce social stigmas, a free micro-credentialing platform for professional learning, and a real-time audio emotional AI visual mood ring to help gauge a Veteran’s basic emotional state during a VCL triage call.
Metastage is a leader in metaverse-facing holographic capture. The interoperable suicide prevention, awareness, and education app utilizes a synthesis of cutting-edge technologies, including volumetric capture digital avatars and branching-narrative technology to create an immersive extended reality (XR) training experience.
Mindstrong is a virtual mental health platform that combines care, data, and technology and specializes in persons with any mental health condition, including suicidality. The solution will expand the digital virtual mental health platform with Data-Empowered Care Plans (DECP) and care optimization technology developed uniquely for Veterans suffering from mental illness to ensure the right level of care is anticipated and available.
NeuroFlow assesses and triages Veterans and caregivers to get them to the right level of behavioral healthcare and community services based on their available benefits, geography, clinical presentation, and more. Designed for suicide prevention and ongoing remote monitoring, NeuroFlow provides high-tech and high-touch support for Veterans that would typically fall through the cracks. The two-sided technology platform offers Veterans tailored resources and digital care 24/7, while measuring their evolving behavioral health needs to inform care teams of potential crises before they happen.
One Meaningful Act
One Meaningful Act (OMA) is a novel, easy-to-access, Veteran-centered solution that provides crisis transportation and increases engagement with VA services.
The Overwatch Project, an initiative of the 501c3 nonprofit FORGE, saves lives by transforming the conversation about firearms and suicide prevention through a comprehensive peer-intervention program that includes training, community engagement, and communications initiatives crafted in a direct, authentic Veteran voice. The Overwatch Project empowers veterans to intervene with at-risk buddies, asking to temporarily hold onto their guns or take protective storage measures — before it’s too late. This evidence-based approach is modeled after the “Friends Don’t Let Friends Drive Drunk” campaign.
OxfordVR is the leader in building automated treatments for severe mental illness using immersive virtual reality (VR). The solution will integrate evidence-based VR treatment tools to identify and treat critical precursors to crises that lead to suicidal thoughts and behaviors, offering an immersive and scalable opportunity to treat Veterans where they are before a crisis moment.
Polaris Genomics, a Veteran-owned company, is propelling modern mental healthcare toward a long-overdue dawn of precision medicine by combining its next-generation genomic sequencing tool with its bioinformatics and machine learning platform. The solution will empower providers to identify mental health conditions earlier and with higher accuracy to match Veterans with the most effective treatment to reduce suicidal thoughts and behaviors.
ReflexAI brings the best in machine learning and natural language processing to mission-driven, people-centric organizations via innovative tools that transform how they train, develop, and empower their frontline teams. The solution will utilize multiple AI-powered simulations and best-in-class feedback tools to help the VCL train and maintain a team of responders that can meet the needs of every Veteran who reaches out. Its simulation approach is nationally recognized as an innovative and responsible use of AI in crisis services.
SameGrain’s award-winning AI-enabled Community Engagement Platform uses machine learning matching algorithms to privately connect Veterans, family members, and caregivers on millions of shared attributes for meaningful peer connections as well as support. In addition to connecting individuals to relevant peers, mentors, chat groups, and resources to reduce isolation and meet their mental health needs, this solution also gathers anonymized data onto a dashboard for actionable insights.
Sentinel is a highly-scalable mobile application designed to reduce Veteran suicide by encouraging safe storage of firearms, while facilitating strong connections with other Veterans, family, and friends via a Veteran-specific learning and community support network. The software application will integrate Bluetooth-enabled firearms locking devices with a Veteran-specific learning and community support network, utilizing the “Three-Step Theory” (3ST) of suicide to give Veterans a practical safety support system.
Stop Soldier Suicide
Stop Soldier Suicide is the first national, Veteran-founded-and-led nonprofit on a mission to reduce service member and Veteran suicide by 40% by 2030 using enhanced data insights, focused client acquisition, and trauma-informed suicide intervention services. The solution will activate robust clinical and technological teams to pair evidence-based, lifesaving suicide intervention services with unique data forensics, analytics, and artificial intelligence to identify patterns of risk in suicidal Veterans.
Team BraveMind’s solution, Battle Buddy, is a virtual human wellness app that provides on-demand virtual peer support through remote monitoring and virtual human interactions to help Veterans build resilience against suicide.
Team DSS, Inc.
Team DSS, composed of innovators and Veterans in medicine, psychology, and technology, is committed to caring for and supporting Veterans by leveraging Trustworthy AI to assist operators in triaging callers to the Veterans Crisis Line (VCL), improving services to each Veteran caller. The solution’s multidimensional approach detects suicidal risk level in real-time using machine learning techniques, improving distress prediction accuracy.
Guidehouse empowers confident decision-making using advanced and actionable analytics. In partnership with Red Hat and Philip Held, Ph.D., Rush University Medical Center, the team is helping VA and community providers identify Veterans at risk for suicide by combining REACH-VET, social media, and social determinants of health data and connecting it in real-time with VA’s new electronic health record system — before a crisis occurs. This data also supports building community-based and human-centered programs so Veterans can thrive where they are.
IntelliDyne is a leading government information technology firm enabling better mission performance through innovative technology solutions. The “CALLS” solution implements a data-driven behavioral model for anonymously assessing wellness risk to generate a risk-ranked call-list of Veterans who would benefit from directed outreach efforts, thereby improving behavioral health outcomes and vitally reducing the Veteran suicide rate.
LMI is a consultancy dedicated to powering a future-ready, high-performing government, drawing from expertise in digital and analytic solutions, logistics, and management advisory services. The solution focuses on enhancing services for suicidal Veterans presenting to a community Emergency Department (ED), facilitating Veteran-centric assessment and their first tele-mental health appointment in the ED with a provider knowledgeable of Veteran issues and a peer support representative, and provisioning resources to address immediate crisis care needs, follow-on treatment, and sustained support.
SoKat is a woman-owned small business that has deep roots in academic rigor and research, unparalleled industry experience in designing human-centric artificial intelligence solutions, and has won awards for the innovative tools developed to empower Veterans on their healthcare journey. The solution pairs clinical and non-clinical data sources with SoKat’s multimodal AI technology for Veteran suicide prediction and prevention while applying the most stringent standards of AI ethics.
Televeda is an award-winning social venture with a mission to combat social isolation and loneliness for vulnerable populations. As part of its solution, Televeda will increase broadband access and tech literacy on tribal land and build the first Indigenous community-based mental health app developing racially equitable Computer Vision and NLP AI designed to facilitate a trusted therapy resource network — including live group support and culturally sensitive interventions — to prevent suicide for Native Veterans.
Unite Us is a Veteran founded technology company and a national leader in building coordinated care networks of health and social service providers. Unite Us is committed to reducing Veteran suicide by identifying and predicting social care needs of Veterans and providing accountable social care coordination to ensure they receive services at the point of need and before crisis.
Vara Safety is a New York-based startup advancing reliable biometric access and smart software for firearm safety, focusing on reducing suicide by firearm and unauthorized access through the secure storage of firearms. The Vara Smart App’s integrated technology enables a user to reduce access to their firearm in a moment of crisis. The app connects with a gun safe to provide gun owners a unique set of features to prevent suicide.
VETSTORE connects Veterans to free firearm storage solutions through community-based firearm retailers and shooting ranges. The solution prioritizes the privacy, preferences, and autonomy of Veterans and mitigates cost, stigma, and practical barriers to secure firearm storage solutions.
Meet the Mission Daybreak Promise Award recipients
Arkansas Nurse-Led Academic Community Partnership Innovation (ANACP)
The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences Centers on Aging, College of Nursing and Hartford Center of Geriatric Nursing Excellence developed the Arkansas Nurse-Led Academic Community Partnership. The team evolved the rural outreach program for technology implementation and access to resources into an innovative food insecurity and suicide prevention program for at-risk Veterans. The program seeks to address all needs wherever one feels safe and has access to necessary resources through innovative delivery solutions.
Crisis Text Line
Crisis Text Line provides free, 24/7, text-based mental health support and crisis intervention. The solution will supplement the work of the VCL by providing fully-acculturated crisis support and culturally competent resources for Spanish-speaking Veterans.
LexisNexis Risk Solutions/Public Consulting Group
ReachFurther advances the REACH VET program by integrating social risk insights into predictive analytics and prevention interventions. The solution will supplement VA’s predictive analytics with alternative, real-world, near-real time data sets that provide deep insight into individual-level social risks to perform effective intervention, especially for underserved individuals.
OBT Development Group
The OBT Development Group’s “One Button Tracker” provides a simple, reliable, and privacy-protected method to express and register personal experience in precise detail. Co-created by Veterans handling complex mental health challenges, the OBT “precision psychotherapy” method for supporting clinical treatment and self-management of PTSD allows Veterans and their therapists to observe symptoms at an unprecedented level of detail.
Together with leading suicidologists and digital health developers, including the American Legion, Oui Therapeutics will develop and implement Collaborative Assessment & Planning for Suicide Prevention with Peer Lead User Support (“CAPS+”), a digital collaborative assessment and planning software for reducing suicide risk when paired with peer-led user support. The solution will help care settings screen, assess, and intervene with Veterans and patients at risk for suicide, offering integration with medical systems to save clinician time.
Project Overwatch combines policy changes and program implementation with an ensemble of artificial intelligence, machine learning, and deep learning-based predictive models optimized to specific segments of the Veteran population distinguished by such factors as age, length of service, or era of service. The solution’s deep learning models will assess Veterans’ suicide risk, generating a tiered risk score, individual risk factors, and a re-evaluation date based on the Veteran’s risk tier to assist care teams with crafting a personalized treamtent strategy.
RAS Innovation’s Veteran Health Observation Platform (V-HOP) is a two-way, 4k-interactive holographic communications solution that connects VA health providers to Veterans anywhere and anytime. V-HOP is the next step beyond immersive telepresence with life-size holographic replicas.
Knowing that fear of professional and personal stigma keeps Veterans from accessing help, Sound Off seeks to reduce Veteran suicide by providing access to mental health support with complete anonymity. The IT platform is delivered via mobile app, giving Veterans access to mental health care through a licensed clinician, a screened and trained “Battle Buddy” peer, or through partner X2.Ai’s clinically-validated chatbot “Clara”. Sound Off allows consistent contact with the same clinician or peer and complete anonymity, inherently addressing concerns of stigma.
Voi’s state-of-the-art technology is the only validated suicide risk assessment designed to detect near-term (within the next 72 hours) suicide risk. Voi Detect’s Systematic Expert Risk Assessment for Suicide (SERAS) is a published, peer-reviewed, AI-informed assessment that is as accurate as a psychiatrist, can be quickly administered without specialized training, and is currently used in hospitals, prisons, and by the U.S. military. After delivering SERAS, Voi Detect generates real-time risk scores (low, medium, or high) and monitors and tracks operational and compliance metrics.
Wavy Health connects everyday wearable devices and smart home speakers to watch over vulnerable people and intervene if necessary. The Wavy Warrior solution provides personalized real-time monitoring, stress interventions, and suicide prevention by reducing the level of perceived stress, including risky and harmful behaviors, through a deep tech medical device platform for digital therapeutics (DTx).
About Once A Soldier: Starting in 2017, our mission is to limit the scars of Veteran suicide. We offer prevention services and postvention services. We reach a national audience and our goal is to become the preferred channel for those who want to help Veteran families who need our services. With 17 Veteran suicides a day in 2021, we believe our two niche services will make a difference to each family and to our nation.