The Together With Veterans Action Plan (Pg. T-52) builds on the work the TWV Team has accomplished to date. The Team uses information learned from the assessments in Phase 2: LEARN ABOUT YOUR COMMUNITY and links this information to the TWV Community-Based Suicide Prevention Strategies presented in PHASE 3: TEACH YOUR TEAM.

The Readiness Assessment and SWOT results offer information about local strengths, challenges, and resources. PARTNER Tool survey results illustrate how community partners might better collaborate to improve the community’s response to Veteran needs.

TWV Community-Based Suicide Prevention Strategies Trainings help guide actions by providing the Team with a menu of strategies to implement based on what has worked to reduce suicide in other communities. These strategies follow an evidence-based public health model that includes five areas for intervention. The strategies advise specific activities and describe expected outcomes.

Planning involves reviewing these issues and opportunities to decide the best steps for promoting Veteran suicide prevention locally.

TWV Timeline
Phase 1
Phase 2
Phase 3
Phase 4
Phase 5

A. Prepare for Phase 4

To be ready for Phase 4, the Coordinator enters the
assessment results into the cover sheet of the Action Plan (Pg. T-52) in preparation for discussion with the Team. State, local, and national resources that have been identified during the SWOT Analysis and throughout the Team discussions are also recorded in the Action Plan (Pg. T-52).

The Coordinator prepares copies of the Community-Based Suicide Prevention Strategies—Sample Activities (Pg. T-59). This tool provides examples of activities within each strategic area that can guide the Team when developing a TWV Action Plan. The Coordinator can also review the Community-Based Suicide Prevention Strategies Presentation (Pg. T-40) to become more familiar with the strategies.

The Coordinator provides the following assessment
results for review by the Team during planning:

  • SWOT Themes
  • Readiness Assessment Score and Recommendations
  • PARTNER Tool Report (Note: the PARTNER Tool Report may not be complete at the beginning of the planning process. It can be introduced to the Team as it becomes available.)

The Coordinator reviews available resources that can be brought to planning discussions by reviewing the TWV Suicide Prevention Resources (Pg. T-60) and the MIRECC Ordering Catalogue (Pg. T-84). These documents may also be printed as a resource for the Team during the planning process.

B. The Planning Process

The Coordinator will guide the TWV Team through a series of discussions to determine how the Team will address each Suicide Prevention Strategy:

1. Reduce Stigma and Promote Help-Seeking
2. Promote Lethal Means Safety
3. Provide Individual Suicide Prevention Training
4. Enhance Primary Care Suicide Prevention
5. Improve Access to Quality Care

Developing the Action Plan will likely take a total of 4 to 6 meetings. The strategies can be addressed in any order, as two or more strategies often interconnect. For example, the Team may choose to initiate a local public awareness campaign about Veteran suicide prevention. This might involve posting information about upcoming dates and times for a local suicide prevention training (Provide Individual Suicide Prevention Training) while also offering information about how to access the suicide prevention hotline (Reduce Stigma and Promote Help-Seeking).

For each strategy, the Action Plan (Pg. T-52) should identify the activities or actions, due dates, individuals/ agencies responsible for completing each action, and how the Team will measure progress.

Team meetings are facilitated using the TWV Meeting and Activity Preparation Timeline (Pg. O-17) to review tasks for each strategy-specific planning meeting.

Review Assessment Results

The Coordinator will distribute and present the Readiness Assessment Score and Recommendations to the TWV Team to inform them about the current readiness of the community and recommended actions from the Community Readiness Handbook1 to improve awareness of and investment in Veteran suicide prevention.

The Coordinator will then facilitate a brief discussion
(10 minutes) based on the following questions:

  • Which recommended strategies seem to be most important in this community at this time?
  • Who are the target audiences for recommended activities?

The Coordinator will provide the TWV Team with SWOT Analysis Results and Themes, allowing Team members to spend 10-15 minutes reviewing the results and identifying themes that raise the greatest concern, and identifying available resources and opportunities.

The Team will spend 5 minutes offering their thoughts
in a facilitated discussion.

Lastly, the TWV Coordinator will present the PARTNER Tool Report to the TWV Team and facilitate a brief conversation (10 minutes) to answer the following questions:

  • Which are the strongest relationships?
  • Which relationships need to be strengthened to support Veteran suicide prevention efforts?

Once the results of all three Assessments have been reviewed with the Team, the Coordinator will facilitate a discussion to identify common themes across the assessment results. The Coordinator will use the following questions as a guide for this discussion (10-15 minutes):

  • Are there common issues that are identified across assessment results?
  • Are there common strengths/resources/opportunities found across assessment results?
  • Are there themes that stand out as areas of focus for us at this time?

Once the assessment results are reviewed and discussed, the TWV Team will have a good idea of what types of activities are most needed, what will be effective, and what strengths and opportunities the Team can leverage to implement Together With Veterans strategies.

The Team will then discuss the completed cover sheet of the Action Plan (Pg. T-52) to review key results based on assessments conducted in Phase 2: LEARN ABOUT YOUR COMMUNITY. This information and the Suicide Prevention Strategies—Sample Activities (Pg. T-59) are tools that inform their planning process.

Identify Resources

Resources that can be used to support suicide prevention efforts include training, marketing, expert consultation, community leadership, programs, and funding sources. Local, regional, and state resources are identified during Phase 2. LEARN ABOUT YOUR COMMUNITY and continually revised throughout the process.

Useful information for all strategies can be found in the TWV Suicide Prevention Resources (Pg. T-60) and the MIRECC Ordering Catalogue (Pg. T-84). Additionally, the Community-Based Suicide Prevention Strategies Presentation (Pg. T-40) has more detailed information about some available resources. Team members may have learned about local resources as they reach out to community members about TWV. The Team will discuss which resources may be most useful to improve local Veteran suicide prevention efforts.

Develop Action Items

The Team participates in a facilitated discussion to answer the questions below to develop actions, due dates, individuals/agencies responsible for completing each action in the time allotted, and ways of measuring progress under each strategy below:

Set Priorities

Once the Team has identified resources, they then discuss which action items should take priority over others. To do this, they can use the following questions as a guide:

  • What findings were the most concerning?
  • What areas of change can easily lead to results?
  • Which actions might be the best strategies to expand community interest and investment?

Assign Tasks and Timelines

Generally, the TWV Coordinator will be responsible for tracking action steps and supporting Team efforts to accomplish actions per Phase 5: FOLLOW YOUR PLAN AND MEASURE YOUR RESULTS. However, there may be others on the TWV Team who are more appropriate to be the person responsible for specific actions. For example, a local suicide prevention Trainer may be a member of the TWV Team. That person could be responsible for completing suicide prevention trainings within the timeline stated in the Action Plan.

The Team identifies the person(s) responsible and organizations involved in each component of the Action Plan based on who would be most effective in accomplishing each action. For example, if the Team plans to “provide Primary Care Suicide Prevention Toolkits to local community primary care clinics,” which partners would help with this?

  • What medical professionals are already involved with the Team?
  • Who has connections to medical clinics and is available to create links between the clinics and the Team?

Some individuals may not be responsible for accomplishing a task, but may assist in the task completion.

This is also an important role to play. Timelines for action steps should be reasonable to accomplish, and informed by:

  • Team priorities
  • Community events
  • Availability of needed resources

For example, the Team could prepare in advance to attend a local “Stand Down” or have a table at a gun show to display Veteran suicide prevention materials. Other timelines may be based on scheduling meetings with key community leaders, availability of trainers, or space considerations for holding large events.

Establish Program Evaluation Measures

Program evaluation measures define how the Team will measure achievements. The Team uses this section of the Action Plan to describe what will be tracked and reviewed in Phase 5. Elements and factors include:

  • How will we gather information?
  • When will we collect information?
  • Who is responsible?
  • When will we complete the task?

For example, the Team may track the number of trainings provided, the number of people trained, the amount of suicide prevention materials distributed, or the number of events attended. Information will be tracked and reviewed monthly and quarterly as described in Phase 5: FOLLOW YOUR PLAN AND MEASURE YOUR RESULTS.

When determining evaluation measures, consider the categories that will be reported upon monthly, to include:

TWV Team Meeting: Promotes the planning or implementation of Together With Veterans.

TWV Steering Committee Meeting: Provides leadership to support the TWV Coordinator as needed in setting the agenda and priorities for TWV Team meetings and implementation activities.

Public Event: Host or attend a public event to represent TWV. Examples include hosting a community meeting to discuss health care for Veterans or having a table at a health fair to distribute TWV materials.

Presentation: Formally present on Veteran suicide and Together With Veterans activities. Examples include presenting at a city council meeting about TWV, providing a keynote address at a local Veterans Day event, or participating as a panelist at a conference.

Resource Distribution: Provide resources or materials for suicide prevention and TWV to community stakeholders. Examples include taking Veteran suicide prevention materials to medical, behavioral health, or other public offices to be available for patients/customers or giving posters to a college for display on campus. Any resources distributed at public events, presentations, or trainings should be captured in the reporting of that event.