Kognito Family of Heroes


(For resources, this is the publication date. For programs, this is the date posted.)


Kognito Interactive

Kognito Family of Heroes is a one-hour, online, interactive gatekeeper training simulation that teaches family members of veterans how to (1) identify signs of post-deployment stress, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury (TBI), depression, and thoughts of suicide; (2) approach veterans to discuss their concern, and (3) access mental health support services. Through the training, family members learn what to expect when a veteran returns from deployment; what postdeployment stress is and how to identify it, How to de-escalate arguments and negotiate family responsibilities; how to talk with a veteran about seeking professional help; and how to find support services appropriate for veterans and their families.

In the training, users engage in simulated conversations with three interactive veteran avatars that exhibit signs of post-deployment stress. In these virtual role-plays, they learn conversation strategies for broaching the topic of psychological distress; motivating the veteran to seek help; and avoiding pitfalls, such as pressuring and criticizing the veteran. The course is available from Kognito Interactive for a fee.

Designation as a “Program with Evidence of Effectiveness”

SPRC designated this intervention as a “program with evidence of effectiveness” based on its inclusion in SAMHSA’s National Registry of Evidence-Based Programs and Practices (NREPP).

Outcome(s) Reviewed (Overall Quality of Research Rating-scale of 0 to 4)

1: Preparedness to recognize signs of postdeployment stress (2.4)
2: Preparedness to discuss concern with veteran and motivate him or her to seek help at a VA hospital or Vet center (2.4)
3: Self-efficacy in motivating veteran to seek help at a VA hospital or Vet center (2.5)
4: Intention to approach veteran to discuss concerns (2.4)
5: Intention to mention the VA as a helpful resource (2.4)

Read more about this program’s ratings.


* NREPP changed its review criteria in 2015. This program is a “legacy program,” meaning that it was reviewed under the pre-2015 criteria. The evidence for each outcome was reviewed and scored on a scale of 0-4, with 4 indicating the highest quality of evidence and 0 indicating very poor quality of evidence. The overall rating was based on ratings of six criteria: 1) reliability of measures, 2) validity of measures, 3) intervention fidelity, 4) missing data and attrition, 5) potential confounding variables, and 6) appropriateness of analysis. When considering programs, we recommend (a) assessing whether the specific outcomes achieved by the program are a fit for your needs; and (b) examining the strength of evidence for each outcome.

Implementation Essentials

  • Training participants should be given a variety of local and national resources for veterans who may be at risk for psychological distress.

2012 NSSP Objectives Addressed: 

Objective 5.3: Intervene to reduce suicidal thoughts and behaviors in populations with suicide risk.

Objective 7.1: Provide training on suicide prevention to community groups that have a role in the prevention of suicide and related behaviors.