What is “Military Strong?”

From now through Dec. 31, organizations, businesses, schools, and many others in the tri-county area will challenge each other to become “Military Strong.” They will do so by taking several online courses on military culture and referring fellow entities to do the same.

Provided through the PsychArmor, each free course is just 15 – 25 minutes and educates learners about the basics of military culture and how to support service members, Veterans and their families. The courses are packaged in several different tracks to ensure each organization gets the best content for its needs.

This is the fourth year for the challenge, and the first time it will be offered in Broadwater and Jefferson Counties, in addition to Lewis and Clark.

If 50% of your staff complete the courses in your designated track, your organization will be awarded with the Military Strong designation. Once you finish the training, we will provide you with a Military Strong badge to place on your social media sites to promote your organization’s commitment to the Military Community. Additionally, you will receive a window-cling for your location, among other incentives.

You are also asked to recommend two additional organizations to join the movement. This can be done at any point in the challenge.

The goal of Military Strong is to build the public’s awareness about the unique needs of service members, Veterans, and their families while empowering civilians to create a Veteran-friendly community. The challenge’s ultimate goal to prevent suicide among this population, which is at an increased risk for a variety of reasons discussed in the training.

Educational Tracks

Participating organizations are asked to participate in one of the following tracks that best fits their organization.

Introduction to Supporting Military Kids in Schools

  1. 15 Things Military Kids Want You to Know (18:27)
  2. Introduction: Supporting Military Students K-6 (11:31)
  3. Teachers: Supporting Military Students K-6 (11:31)

Healthcare: The Basics

  1. 15 Things Veterans Want You to Know (15:44)
  2. Women Who Serve (7:22)
  3. Food Insecurity (13:17)
  4. Myths & Facts of Wounded Warriors (12:56)
  5. Helping Others Hold On (18:44)
  6. Communication Skills with Veterans (17:39)

Faith Based- The Basics of Working with Veterans

  1. 15 Things Veterans Want You to Know (15:44)
  2. Women Who Serve (7:22)
  3. Myths & Facts of Wounded Warriors (12:56)
  4. Helping Others Hold On (18:44)
  5. Communication Skills with Veterans (17:39)
  6. Food Insecurity (13:17)

Law Enforcement- The Basics of Working with Veterans

  1. 15 Things Veterans Want You to Know (15:44)
  2. VA S.A.V.E. (24:11)
  3. Communication Skills with Veterans (17:39)
  4. Suicide Prevention and the Safe Storage of Firearms: Conversations for Everyone (8:27)

Who oversees the challenge?

The Military Strong Campaign is a collaboration of the Lewis and Clark Suicide Prevention Coalition, the local Mayor’s Challenge team, and the PsychArmor to reduce suicides among service members, Veterans, and their families. The Lewis and Clark Suicide Prevention Coalition and its facilitator oversee the program and will track team participation.

We want to make sure service members, Veterans, and their families know about agencies like yours that are dedicated to making Lewis and Clark County more military friendly.

How long is the training?

Each training track is made up of three to six modules, which range from 15-25 minutes long. Depending on the track it can take 45 to 90 minutes to complete the entire program. Participants can watch the curriculum in one sitting or split it up over several sessions.

How much do the courses cost?

Through a grant from the Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration, the Coalition and the Lewis and Clark Public Health Suicide Prevention Program is able to provide participants with these prescribed PsychArmor courses at no cost to users.

What will my organization and staff receive once certified?

Any participating agency, business, or organization that achieves 50 percent or higher staff completion will receive:

•  One ‘Military Strong’ badge window cling
•  A ‘Military Strong’ badge sticker for each employee who completed the training
•  A digital version of the badge will be provided for organizations to post to their website and social media pages. It will also be posted next to organizational entries in the Montana 211 website and the CONNECT Referral System if your organization meets the criteria for those platforms.
•  A ‘Thank you’ via the Lewis & Clark Suicide Prevention Coalition Facebook page
•  A mention in a Helena IR letter to the editor
•  Inclusion on the LCsuicideprevention.org Military Strong page
•  Certified participants will have their logos posted on PsychArmor’s national website
•  The ability to refer two or more organizations and businesses to participate.

Additionally, service members, Veterans, and their families will receive information regarding community organizations and businesses that have participated so they can frequent them if they wish to do so.

Who has completed the training so far?

Organizations include AARP, Boeing Helena, local behavioral health services, a car dealership, churches, St. Peter’s Health, PureView Health Center, among many others. For the full list, please visit the Military Strong Organizations page.

Why should my organization join the challenge?

Suicide is a community issue. When it comes to preventing suicide among service members, Veterans, and their families, there is more involved than simply calling a crisis line (988, dial 1 for the Veteran Crisis Line).

For them and many others, prevention looks like understanding their needs and their culture, while increasing access to employment, housing, and food, as well as social connection, and community support.

By participating in just 90 minutes of training, you and your organization will help to close the military / civilian divide in Lewis and Clark, Broadwater and Jefferson Counties. You’ll also be equipped to be better friends, partners, employers, and neighbors to the Veterans and service members in the region.

What should I do if my organization wants to participate in the challenge?

General Onboarding Process

1. Contact Jess Hegstrom, Lewis and Clark Public Health Suicide Prevention Coordinator, at jhegstrom@lccountymt.gov to receive an onboarding form.

We also ask that you provide us with the name of two fellow organizations that would benefit from this training. You can do this at any point while participating and are welcome to provide additional referrals.

2. Once your organization accepts this challenge and completes the easy onboarding process through this form, the PsychArmor will upload your staff/volunteers to the portal. They will receive an enrollment email and be prompted to log in.

3. The courses are self-guided so your employees can take the free courses as their schedules allow within the designated time period. A template letter addressing staff will be provided.

5. If you accept the challenge, we recommend that you promote your participation via social media. Pre-made challenge acceptance posts can be provided.

6. Once half of your employees have completed the training, we will email your designated point-of-contact to congratulate you. We can also provide you with more pre-made social media posts to celebrate your accomplishment.

7. The Suicide Prevention Coalition will award each certified organization with a Military Strong window cling, individual stickers for employees, a thank you via Facebook, and inclusion on the coalition and PsychArmor websites.

What if members of my team are already registered on PsychArmor? Do they need to use the team link?

While already registered participants can access and participate in the separate courses, they must use the team link to have their coursework counted toward certification. Existing PsychArmor learners can use their current username and password to join the group as previously earned credits will carry over. New learners can register directly from the team link.

To access your courses, please select “My Learning” from the top banner and select “My Dashboard.” The courses will be assigned to your Dashboard for completion. Once you complete the courses, your transcript will be updated.

What if I want to learn more?

Once you’ve completed the Military Strong Challenge, you are welcome to check out PsychArmor’s myriad courses. They’re all free and will build on what you’ve already learned about military culture.

What is the Mayor’s Challenge?

Helena was one of eight cities nationwide selected in 2018 to participate in the Mayor’s Challenge to Prevent Suicide Among Service Members, Veterans, and Their Families. The program is sponsored by the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the U.S. Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs.

What is PsychArmor?

PsychArmor’s mission is to bridge the civilian-military divide by ensuring that every American has the tools and resources needed to engage effectively with service members and Veterans.

With fewer than 7% of our country having served in uniform, most Americans are unfamiliar with military life and culture. A better understanding of military culture and the Veteran community can alleviate many of the challenges Veterans and service members face when returning from war or transitioning into civilian life.
PsychArmor is the only national institute of its kind, dedicated to bridging the civilian-military divide through free online education and a support center staffed with mental health experts.

PsychArmor recruits nationally recognized subject matter experts to create and deliver online courses about issues relevant to the military and Veteran communities. Its self-paced courses are delivered within six schools geared toward military culture, healthcare providers, employers, educators, volunteers, caregivers, and families. It provides critical resources to all Americans who work with, live with, and care about Veterans.

Who do I contact if I have questions?

Contact Jess Hegstrom, Suicide Prevention Coordinator, Lewis and Clark Public Health
jhegstrom@lccountymt.gov • Office 406-457-8970