Phoenix, Arizona - Arizona’s Be Connected program is getting national attention—and even being modeled at the federal level—for its success reducing veteran suicide.
Over the weekend, The New York Times published a story about the progress Democrats and Republicans in Washington, D.C. have made implementing a program modeled after Arizona’s Be Connected program:
“The program, called Be Connected, is based on one that worked with Arizona National Guard members who were dying by suicide at increasingly high rates over the last decade, and supported by a 2015 law designed to improve veteran’s mental health. It is operated by the Arizona Coalition for Military Families, a statewide public-private partnership that includes the Arizona governor’s office, the Arizona Department of Veterans Services, the federal veterans department and other partners.”
The Be Connected program focuses on early intervention by connecting Arizona service members, veterans, families and helpers to information, support and resources, such as peer support and behavioral health services.
In 2015, Congress passed the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act, putting a renewed focus on the issue of suicide prevention among veterans. That year, Senator John McCain successfully advocated for Arizona to be included among a list of states establishing pilot programs to connect veterans with community resources.
After starting with just one team member in 2017, the program has expanded to more than twenty staff members. It has resulted in:
More than 20,000 Arizonans connected to community resources by phone, in-person or online,
And more than 4,000 community members being trained in Resource Navigation.
Governor Ducey’s executive budget as well as the fiscal year 2020 budget added $1.2 million to the Be Connected program to expand services for Arizona’s veterans.
Arizona is home to more than 600,000 service members, veterans and their families. According to studies, the risk of suicide is three times higher among Arizona veterans than non-veterans.
Governor Ducey recognized August 19, 2019 as Be Connected Day in Arizona to highlight the importance of creating open doors for Arizona’s service members, veterans and their families to combat veteran suicide.