Who We Are

Shauna Springer, Ph.D., has served as a front line mental health provider for hundreds of Veterans, helping them see their worth in the community, control that switch of rage, and most importantly helping her Veterans re-connect with their warrior family to build the hope to live for those who didn’t come home and those they fight for still. She has given countless hours of her life to see that our Veterans stay in the fight for those they love.

Brian Vargas enlisted in the Marines as 0311, infantryman. In 2006, he deployed to Iraq with 3/4 Lima Co, knowing that the only way he would make it home was by trusting his team. On January 2007, a sniper shot him and it forever changed his life. He was put in the Wounded Warrior Battalion-West, where he met some of his best friends, his team grew, and in July 2008 another shock came when one of those best friends lost his life to an impulsive firearm suicide. These events have lead Brian to see the Warrior Box Project as his next mission.


1) Give Veterans a tangible way to RE-connect with what they vowed to protect: the tribe of those they love and trust and the values they hold most sacred

2) Provide Veterans with a powerful method for defining both their individual and tribal identities

3) Remind Veterans that the love of their tribe gives their life immeasurable value and that suicide causes massive, irreversible, and sustained collateral damage to those they love

4) Provide Veterans AND those in their tribe with a set of clear expectations for how to connect during any times of distress

The Warrior Box intervention as a whole is designed to help Veterans stay in the fight by staying connected with the people and values that they choose to live for, even in times of distress, or during periods when they are feeling acutely disconnected. The Warrior Box is also meant to create and stimulate ongoing connection between the Veteran and other “battle buddies” or “fire team members” (who may be spouses, trusted civilian friends, supportive and emotionally safe parents, as well as those one served with). The Warrior Box is designed to help all Veterans feel greater connection with others and their own higher values, whether they own guns or not, and whether they ever face times of life-threatening distress or not.

What is the backstory behind the creation of the Warrior Box?

​The idea for the Warrior Box was generated by Dr. Shauna Springer’s clinical observation of a meaningful discrepancy in the themes of stories patients tell about their “near death experiences.” As she has observed, Vets who nearly lose their lives in battle often see the faces or hear the voices of their loved ones. Many times, these people urge them to fight for life - to "stay in the fight" because of powerful attachments that are worth living for - whether that is a spouse they love, a beloved pet, or a child they are missing while deployed. In impulsive suicide attempts, the core narrative is usually strikingly different. As she has noted, when it comes to impulsive suicide attempts, there is most often only a tunnel of darkness and despair - not the faces and voices of loved ones urging one to see life as precious and fight for it accordingly.

In light of this noteworthy discrepancy in these narratives, she thought that since the faces and voices of loved ones have helped many a soldier “come back from death,” maybe the same force can be tapped to urge people on the impulsive suicidal train of thought to stop the train. In order to explore the utility of this idea, she proposed this theory, concept and application to USMC Veteran Brian Vargas. Brian Vargas and Shauna Springer have since worked collaboratively to develop this concept with the goal of reducing Veteran suicides. As such, the Warrior Box has been developed specifically for Veterans and active duty military service members with continuous Veteran input. 

If you would like to support or partner with us in this work, we ask that you contact Dr. Shauna Springer (shauna@post.harvard.edu).


As Featured on KCBS Radio 

  • CAL VET-11:36

As featured on Berkeley News 

War wounds lead graduating veteran to new mission

By Gretchen Kell, Media relations | MAY 4, 2016

We believe that the same bonds of love that drive Veterans to risk their lives for the people and values they hold sacred can be deployed to help them stay in the good fight.

To gain a sense of the broader vision, view the local media clips at the bottom of this page or link to these articles:"Reflections on Veteran Resilience, Veteran Suicide, and Tribe."

"Crisis Response Models For Suicide are Not Enough: Envisioning a Better, Stronger model - A Communal Response to Crisis."

In this episode of Veterans Voices, Dr. Springer shares fresh ideas and practical insights about how to approach a loved one who may be in crisis.

TV Appearances on Veterans Voices of Contra Costa County

In this episode of Veterans Voices, Dr. Springer and United States Marine Corps Veteran Brian Vargas share an idea they have developed in collaboration to address the problem of veteran suicide.


As featured on the NBC Nightly News 

Iraq War Veteran's Ammo Box Helps Him Persevere
By Michelle Roberts

What is a Warrior Box?

A Warrior Box is a relatively small storage case (usually an ammo can) that contains pictures and  key mementos that remind a Veteran of what he or she lives for (e.g. names of brothers and sisters in one’s unit, a purple heart medal, more pictures of loved ones, a love letter from one’s partner, a cross or other symbol of enduring faith, letters between Veterans contracting for mutual engagement in times of distress etc.). The Warrior Box is part of a larger strategic intervention that aims to address the problem of impulsive suicide attempts in a way that honors Veteran culture, values and language.

The Warrior Box is one part of a larger strategic plan that works within the cultural values and language common to many who have served in the military. Attempts to offer interventions in part (e.g. using the Warrior Box in isolation, and out of context of the full strategic plan) will weaken our attempts to make this as effective as we hope it can be.

If you would like to support or partner with us in this work, we ask that you contact Dr. Shauna Springer (shauna@post.harvard.edu).