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Transitioning Servicemember/Veteran and Suicide Prevention Center (TASC)

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The TASC research team includes psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, postdoctoral scholars, and students from both VISN 2 MIRECC and VISN 17 CoE.

Each team member brings a unique perspective to the group’s unified goal of improving support for and mitigating suicide risk of transitioning service members and Veterans. Broadly, TASC research is organized according to five core themes, which our team believes to underlie transitioning Veteran suicide risk:

  1. Mental Health: A first line of research at TASC focuses on themes of mental health among service members and Veterans. Our most robust line of research, this work has examined common mental health concerns of service members and Veterans, the relation of these concerns to military-specific experiences (e.g., deployment, combat exposure), and the degree to which mental health indicators may be used to predict future instances of service member/Veteran suicide behaviors. This line of research has contributed to the ongoing development and dissemination of various clinical interventions, including Project Life Force, Mil-iTransition, and 3 Session Interpersonal Therapy.
  2. Physical Health: Second, our research focuses on physical health among service members and Veterans. Broadly speaking, this line of research has examined physical health as a predictor of suicide risk, as a potential source of transition-related stress, and as a target of transitional assistance. This research includes efforts to increase VHA registration among eligible transitioning Veterans and investigations into chronic pain and polytrauma.
  3. Crime: A third line of research examines service member and Veteran involvement in criminal and otherwise antisocial behaviors. Growing research by our team suggests criminal behavior and other forms of legal involvement are a common source of transition stress for many Veterans and are closely associated with risk for suicide behavior. Correspondingly, this line of research aims to clarify the relation between Veteran antisocial behavior and suicide and to identify strategies for better supporting justice-involved Veterans. This research is supported through partnerships with the VA National Center for Homelessness among Veterans, the Veterans Justice Outreach Program, and local Veterans Treatment Courts. Resulting initiatives include development of Dialectical Behavior Therapy for Justice-Involved Veterans and program evaluations of local Veterans Treatment Court programs.
  4. Reintegration Difficulties: Fourth, a robust line of TASC research has also been devoted to furthering understandings of the military-to-civilian transition process and to mitigating associated difficulties. This research includes direct qualitative and quantitative investigations with transitioning Veterans as well as the national dissemination of the Transitioning Service Member/Veteran Sponsorship Initiative (TSM/V-SI). This work is supported through partnerships with the Department of Veterans Affairs, Department of Defense, QUERI, and a range of local and national organizations dedicated to supporting Veterans.
  5. Interpersonal & Social Support: A final line of TASC research focuses explicitly on increasing interpersonal and social support of transitioning Veterans, particularly those at risk for suicide. Toward this aim, our team has sought to better understand the role of social supports and interpersonal dynamics within the context of suicide risk and transitional stress and developed a range of interventions to increase supports for at-risk Veterans. Initiatives include CALM (Counseling on Access to Lethal Means) for Families, the TSM/VI initiative, and a Veteran Spouse Resiliency Group.