Battle Buddy received a $1 million award: Battle Buddy is a virtual human-led mental health and wellness application that promotes resiliency among Veterans at risk for suicide. The application’s interactive, conversational AI utilizes content from VA’s Suicide Safety Planning program during brief daily check-ins with Veterans. The mobile application will also connect with wearable sensors to leverage sleep, exercise, and other health signals. Battle Buddy is a partnership between the USC Institute for Creative Technologies, led by Sharon Mozgai, Skip Rizzo, Arno Hartholt, and the SoldierStrong Foundation.
Preventing Veteran suicide is VA’s top clinical priority and a top priority of the Biden-Harris Administration. In September, VA released the 2022 National Veteran Suicide Prevention Annual Report, which showed that Veteran suicides decreased in 2020 for the second year in a row, and that fewer Veterans died by suicide in 2020 than in any year since 2006. Mission Daybreak is part of VA’s 10-year strategy to end Veteran suicide through a comprehensive, public health approach, and is the largest cash federal incentive prize since the establishment of the Prize Authority.
VA launched the multiphase challenge in May 2022, receiving more than 1,300 concept submissions in Phase 1 from Veterans, VSOs, community-based organizations, health tech companies, startups, and universities. The multidisciplinary judging panel — representing a diversity of perspectives, from Veterans and clinicians to social workers and technical experts — evaluated submissions from the 30 finalists in Phase 2. The panel recommended the 10 winners based on the official evaluation criteria.
For more information on the Battle Buddy project visit here or contact the PI, Sharon Mozgai at firstname.lastname@example.org.