TWV Team members work together to understand community strengths and needs by conducting community assessments. These assessments provide useful information about:

  • Local attitudes towards Veterans
  • Awareness of Veteran suicide
  • The connection and coordination across local Veteran-serving agencies
  • What is working well for Veterans in the community
  • What needs improvement

There are three types of assessments used to assist the TWV Team in learning about their community:

  1. Readiness Assessment
  2. SWOT Analysis
  3. PARTNER Tool
TWV Timeline
Phase 1
Phase 2
Phase 3
Phase 4
Phase 5

A. Prepare for Phase 2

Assessments will occur as early as possible to enable a clear understanding of the current status of the community at the beginning of the TWV process and may occur concurrently with Phase 1: BUILD YOUR TEAM.

The Readiness Assessment and SWOT Analysis involve face-to-face meetings. These two assessments can occur on the same day or may be conducted on different dates. The PARTNER Tool survey can be distributed electronically.

To be ready for implementing Phase 2, the Coordinator will:

  • Review the three assessments used in the TWV process
  • Prepare to implement processes for conducting assessments
  • Become familiar with the types of results each assessment provides

Identify appropriate community representatives to participate in the Readiness Assessment (Pg. T-20) and PARTNER Tool (Pg. T-30) survey.

Preparation includes determining the appropriate time and date to conduct each assessment. Generally, the SWOT Analysis (Pg. T-21 ) occurs during the first meeting with Veterans and community partners per Phase 1: BUILD YOUR TEAM. The Readiness Assessment (Pg. T-20) and PARTNER Tool (Pg. T-30) survey processes require an understanding of which agencies and representatives are most appropriate to involve in the assessments. For this reason, it may take a bit more time to be ready to initiate these assessments.

The Coordinator should use the following timeline to complete all three assessments:

The Readiness Assessment (Pg. T-20) takes approximately 1.5 hours and involves a small group. Ideally, this should occur prior to the first Team meeting with an early group of stakeholders, and should include representatives of the community partners identified in Phase 1: BUILD YOUR TEAM.

The SWOT Analysis (Pg. T-21) takes about 3.5 hours and involves the entire Together With Veterans Team.

The PARTNER Tool (Pg. T-30) survey is emailed out to key individuals from organizations throughout the community. This requires identifying who from each organization should receive the survey and obtaining their email address. As a result, this survey will occur after the first few TWV meetings so that there is enough information available about which agencies should be surveyed and which representative from these agencies should be asked to complete the survey.

B. Readiness Assessment

The Community Readiness Assessment (Pg. T-20) determines local awareness, attitudes, and commitment towards addressing Veteran suicide prevention. The process is based on the Community Readiness Handbook1, a tool that assesses community readiness for change.

The Together With Veterans Community Readiness focus group brings selected individuals together to collect descriptions and examples of community readiness. Community readiness is the degree to which the community is willing and prepared to take action on suicide prevention efforts for Veterans. The Readiness Assessment asks questions about the following topics related to the issue of local Veteran suicide prevention:

  • Community knowledge and attitudes towards Veteran suicide
  • Resources and commitment dedicated to addressing Veteran suicide (people, time, money, space, etc.)
  • Community awareness of existing programs, activities, and policies for addressing Veteran suicide
  • Formal and informal community leadership
  • Community climate

Individuals invited to participate in the focus group can be Veterans or representatives of key community services. It is helpful to include community leaders, residents, or professionals who have firsthand knowledge about the community. Focus group participants should know what is going on in the community and have some connection to Veterans or suicide prevention.

This diagram shows six sectors — law, business, education, health, government, and other involved citizens. A representative from each sector is ideal in order to gain a relatively accurate picture of the community’s attitudes and knowledge about the issue of Veteran suicide.

Readiness Assessment: Interpreting Your Results

The focus group responses to the questions are scored to determine the community’s level of readiness to address the issue. These scores are rated from 1–9, as described in the table below.

These results will be applied during Phase 4: PLAN FOR ACTION. Based on these results, the Community Readiness Handbook1 makes specific recommendations designed to increase the community’s ability to successfully address the issue of Veteran suicide prevention.

C. SWOT Analysis — Strengths,Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats

A SWOT Analysis guides the team through evaluating the community to determine:

  • Strengths and Opportunities that can be helpful in addressing Veteran suicide. Examples include a community that is supportive of Veterans, the availability of many local Veterans organizations, a strong system of health and behavioral health care providers, or local funding opportunities to support Veteran initiatives.
  • Weakness and Threats that create challenges for Veterans or create barriers to implementing a community-based suicide prevention plan.

The Coordinator follows the SWOT Analysis Protocol (Pg. T-21) to lead the TWV Team through a process of reviewing community Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats related to Veteran suicide. The following factors are considered during this exercise:

  • How Veterans are supported by the community
  • How Veterans get connected to social supports and activities
  • How Veterans know about, access, and receive services
  • How well-informed service providers are about Veteran/military culture
  • How equipped Veterans and community partners are to identify Veterans who are in crisis and get them the support and help they may need

The SWOT Analysis may occur during the first TWV community meeting after the Coordinator has provided an overview of the program. This allows the Coordinator to collect information from a cross-section of the community.

SWOT Analysis: Understanding Your Results

SWOT Results inform the TWV Team about what is working, what is not working, and what could be improved related to services and supports for Veterans. Themes are drawn from the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats listed by the TWV Team to determine what are the most commonly identified community needs, areas of concern, and available resources. These results will guide the TWV Team in deciding key areas of focus during the planning process of Phase 4: PLAN FOR ACTION.


The PARTNER Tool (Pg. T-30) surveys key representatives from across the community to measure collaboration among people and organizations. Results provide information about how organizations work together, including strengths and gaps in relationships. Based on these results, the Team can identify how to strengthen local systems to address issues of concern.

The Coordinator identifies which organizations should be surveyed and which representative of each organization should complete the survey. Organizations selected to be surveyed would include those that make up the local service network and/or organizations who would be participating in Together With Veterans activities. This could include Veteran organizations, health care agencies, public health, social services, clinics, and governmental organizations such as a local Veterans Center. The representative is an individual who has the authority to answer on behalf of the organization. Once the contact information of each representative is provided to MIRECC and the Visible Network Labs (see Glossary Pg. T-1), the survey will be emailed to each of the community representatives.

PARTNER Tool Results

The Visible Network Labs reviews survey results and provides a report describing local community connections. This information will help the TWV Team understand what organizations in the community may need to be more informed or involved to support Veteran suicide prevention efforts. It will assist in formulating strategies to strengthen the network of support for Veterans. The following sample tool is provided courtesy of the Veterans Coalition of Northwest Montana.