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Understanding the online veteran community to save lives

The challenge

The Overwatch Project’s mission is to reduce suicides and create meaningful conversations around mental health within the veteran community.

• In preparation for their campaign aimed at preventing the use of firearms during a crisis and encouraging vet-to-vet support, they had to establish themselves as genuine allies.

• By exploring social conversation themes, semantics, digital behaviors, veteran influencers, and more, we gained a deep understanding of the veteran community and determined which avenues of reach were most effective.

Our solution

We used a mixed-methodology approach to discover nuanced insights about the audience.

• This allowed us to give The Overwatch Project life-saving messaging recommendations.


The research showed the kinds of stories and voices that resonate most among the community, the kind of “insider” language that demonstrates authenticity, motivators for vets to “rise to the challenge”, and triggers that can set them on a downward path.

• We uncovered exactly where and how veterans spend their time online: primarily on Facebook, Twitter and Reddit for discussions, as well as on YouTube, Instagram, and podcast platforms.

• An in-depth understanding of nuanced language, the crucial role of insider voices to tap into “networks of networks”, attitudes toward veteran mental health on social media — we identified all of these elements to shape our recommendations.

• We also learned what kind of third-party resources veterans turn to in times of crisis, uncovering direct opportunities for The Overwatch Project to become trusted and reliable partners. Overwatch used the findings to build their social and content strategy.

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