“It takes a community to save a neighbor.”

Those words, from a local suicide prevention advocate, depict a growing phenomenon in Lewis and Clark County.

Through the Military Strong Challenge, several Helena organizations have stepped up to #BeThere for those with military service. Military Strong is an educational competition that uses evidence-based courses from the nonprofit PsychArmor Institute to teach civilians to understand and support service members, veterans and their families.

Since the Challenge started in late May, employees of 10 organizations have completed the 1-hour training: Montana Joining Community Forces, the Center for Mental Health, United Way of the Lewis and Clark Area, Western Montana Mental Health Center – Helena Services, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Helena, Most Wanted Real Estate, the Montana Office of the Mental Health Ombudsman, PureView Health Center, Fort Harrison Risk Reduction Team and Lewis and Clark Public Health.

Lewis and Clark County government, the Helena Family YMCA, the City of East Helena, Breathe: Let’s Start a Conversation, the Lewis and Clark Library, Career Training Institute, Rocky Mountain Development Council and Family Promise of Greater Helena are in the process of completing the training.

Participating organizations have an opportunity to nominate others to take the challenge. This means the support the challenge fosters will continue to spread, thanks to their dedication.

You can become #MilitaryStrong, too. Learn how at www.lcsuicideprevention.org/military-strong-are-you-up-for-the-challenge/.

Jess Hegstrom is the suicide prevention coordinator for Lewis and Clark Public Health.

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