UT Health Science Center San Antonio joins USAA and Face the Fight™ to reduce veteran suicide

L to R: Brandon Carter, President, USAA Life Insurance Company; Adam Rocke, Hiring Our Heroes; Katy Dondanville, PsyD, ABPP, Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, UT Health San Antonio and director for the STRONG STAR Training Initiative; Chef Andre Rush; Chris Ford, Stop Soldier Suicide; USAA employee Kevin Copes; USAA President and CEO Wayne Peacock; and Major General Alfred K. Flowers, Reach Resilience, an Endeavors Foundation. Photo courtesy of John Lill | Lead Photographer | DMC Product Owner | Enterprise Marketing & Chief Creative Office (EMC), Marketing | Strategy, Digital & Brand | USAA, USAA Culture Champion
Strategy behind Face the Fight seeks to create safe environments, strengthen care access, identify risks and provide support for veterans and their support networks

The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (also referred to as UT Health San Antonio) is providing experts trained in military and veteran mental health to help San Antonio-based USAA launch Face the Fight™, a social impact initiative with an aspirational goal to cut the veteran suicide rate in half by 2030.

Since 2001, more than 120,000 U.S. military veterans have died by suicide, driven by a veteran suicide rate that is currently 1.5 times the general population. To help address this persistent and complex issue, USAA established Face the Fight, a coalition of corporations, foundations, nonprofits and veteran-focused organizations joined together to raise awareness and support for veteran suicide prevention.

The initiative formally launched on June 29 in Washington, D.C. and has already seen great success, including through a key component – philanthropic grant-making. USAA and The USAA Foundation seeded a coalition-backed philanthropic fund with an initial $10 million in grants. The Humana Foundation and Reach Resilience, an Endeavors Foundation, contributed additional funds as founding partners raising an initial total of $41 million. Grants will be provided to organizations that align with the overall philanthropic strategy, including specific areas like expansion of suicide prevention and training programs, clinical fellowships to strengthen the pipeline of qualified clinicians, and distribution of tools to veteran service organizations, the legal community and other entities who work with veterans.

Katy Dondanville, PsyD, ABPP, Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, UT Health San Antonio and director, STRONG STAR Training Initiative and USAA President and CEO Wayne Peacock at the June 29 launch of the Face the Fight initiative in Washington, D.C.

Clinical psychologist Katy Dondanville, PsyD, ABPP, of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at UT Health San Antonio, and her team, are serving as the academic medical center advisers on this long-term initiative. Dondanville and colleagues from UT Health San Antonio are nationally recognized experts in implementing psychological treatments for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and related conditions, including suicide.

Dondanville also serves as director for the STRONG STAR Training Initiative, which has headquarters at UT Health San Antonio. The STRONG STAR Training Initiative expands access to quality, evidence-based treatment to mental health clinicians and organizations that provide mental health care to military and veteran communities reaching more than 2,000 clinicians in 44 states since 2017.

More than 40 organizations have already joined the Face the Fight coalition along with governmental liaisons from the White House-Joining Forces Initiative, Departments of Veterans Affairs and Defense, and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration – U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Face the Fight will also include an ongoing public awareness campaign for the public to learn more about the initiative, find help and join the fight. More information can be found at www.wefacethefight.org.

L to R: Brooke Fina, LCSW, BCD associate professor and Deb Kichline, senior project coordinator, join Katy Dondanville, PsyD, ABPP, Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, all of UT Health San Antonio, at the June 29 launch of the Face the Fight initiative in Washington D.C.

UT Health San Antonio’s role is to serve as advisers leading the strategic approach and convening a scientific advisory committee. “Our team will provide technical assistance to grantees, and we will help track the initiative’s progress and impact to continuously inform Face the Fight,” Dondanville said.

For resources and information about Face the Fight, visit wefacethefight.org. Organizations interested in joining the coalition can express interest by emailing join@wefacethefight.org.


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