Military Connection: New Director of DOD Suicide Prevention Office

New DSPO director

By Debbie Gregory.

The Department of Defense recently named Dr. Keita M. Franklin the new director of the DOD Suicide Prevention Office (DSPO).

The DSPO was established in 2011 and falls under the authority of the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel & Readiness. According to the DSPO website, the office “oversees all strategic development, implementation, centralization, standardization, communication and evaluation of DOD suicide and risk reduction programs, policies and surveillance activities.”

The DSPO works with the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard and National Guard Bureau to reduce the occurrences of suicides amongst service members and Veterans. The office strives to create a climate that encourages service members to seek help for their mental health issues.

Dr. Franklin’s appointment to director marks an elevation of DSPO leadership to a career Senior Executive Service (SES) position, reinforcing the department’s commitment to increasing resiliency across the armed forces.

Dr. Franklin has fourteen years of experience working with service members and their families in various capacities. She was Behavioral Health Branch Head at Headquarters Marine Corps, tasked with leading five behavioral health programs, including suicide prevention. Before that, Dr. Franklin supervised family programs at the installation and regional levels for both the Army and the Air Force. But she says that her main area of interest is post traumatic stress symptoms and how they impact the ways military families function.

Dr. Franklin has a PhD in Social Work from Virginia Commonwealth University, and is a licensed clinical social worker. Her post-doctoral research explored the impact of deployment and psychological well-being on family relationships.

“I am very pleased to have Dr. Franklin take the lead in this very important mission,” said Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel & Readiness Jessica Wright.

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Military Connection: New Director of DOD Suicide Prevention Office: By Debbie Gregory