Mental Health, Military Families/Veterans 03.28.2017

Managing the Challenges of Post-Deployment Life

Kognito partnered with the NY/NJ VA Health Care Network (NY/NJ VA) to help veterans, service members, and military family and friends manage the challenges of adjusting to post-deployment life.


Kognito partnered with the NY/NJ VA Health Care Network to help veterans, service members, and military family and friends manage the challenges of adjusting to post-deployment life. In partnering with Kognito, the VA was looking to create an online experience that would broaden engagement and drive increased referrals for VA support services. Working with a panel comprised of mental health experts and one hundred family members, Kognito created Family of Heroes, an evidence-based, role-play simulation in which the families of the VA’s nearly 1 million veterans can build their skills to lead real-life conversations with their veteran about improving family cohesion, employment, and, if necessary, the need to seek professional help for PTSD, TBI, depression, or thoughts of suicide. A peer-reviewed study published in the Games For Health Journal found Family of Heroes to be an effective tool for families to take an active role in motivating veterans to seek help at the VA or non-VA resources. The simulation is listed in the National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices (NREPP). To date, the simulation has been adopted by state agencies, non-profit organization serving the military and veterans, and VA/DoD entities.

Building on the success of Family of Heroes, Kognito and the NY/NJ VA created a peer support simulation, Together Strong, for active service members and the more than 2.7 million veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. This online and mobile app includes three role-play conversations with veterans and service members. Each conversation is designed to develop their skills to lead real-life conversations with a buddy struggling with re-adjusting to civilian life, with the goal to build resilience and connect them with support services. Challenges discussed in the conversations include difficulties at work, marital relationships, and mental health.