This week the Department of Veterans’ Affairs recognized two first-place winners of the VA’s Mission Daybreak challenge. Project Hózhó was one of the two first place prize winners, which is focused on bringing broadband services and culturally relevant mental health support to Native American reservations in the southwest United States. The prize brings with it $3 million in funding for the project’s suicide prevention efforts, which will be immediately invested into the infrastructure and mental health assistance work that the group has already begun.

While suicide prevention in the Veteran community has been a focus for years, reducing suicides year over year has been an elusive goal for policy planners and activists aiming to help. VA officials announced the number of veterans suicides in 2020 (the most recent year for which data is available) dropped to just below 17 deaths a day, the lowest rate since 2006. That still works out to more than 6,100 deaths via suicide for that year. The Mission Daybreak initiative was launched last May as a way to develop new suicide prevention strategies through a public competition. The department awarded $20 million in prizes to 40 firms in recent months, including payouts of $1 million or more to five exceptional projects recognized this week.