February 1 marks the start of Black History Month, a time to honor and reflect on the strides and struggles of the Black community. The need to come together to create a more equitable future continues to be at the forefront of our nation — and Bridgette Bell is a 2017 Tillman Scholar who has been doing just that.
Bridgette found a passion for psychology in the toils of command. She spent 22 months analyzing and implementing suicide prevention strategies within her unit. She left command with a greater appreciation for the study of resilience, the human dimension, and behavioral health services. She completed a master’s thesis on the Army Suicide Prevention Program and returned to West Point to teach cadets the power of human-centered design.
The Pat Tillman Foundation honored Bridgette at the 2022 Tillman Honors with its Make Your Mark Award for her ongoing commitment to improving mental health outcomes for vulnerable and marginalized populations, particularly her fellow veterans and service members. As an advocate for better mental health support — including shifting suicide prevention efforts to what she calls “life preservation,” cofounding Do More Together, West Point’s alumni association for Black graduates, serving on the Department of Defense’s Independent Review Commission on Sexual Assault, and her dissertation research to improve therapists’ cultural understanding to help diverse patients process grief — Bell centers empathy and understanding as she challenges unacceptable outcomes and aims to, in her own words, “bring more light into the world.”
In her acceptance speech of the 2022 Make Your Mark Award, Bridgette speaks on the need to “dive into the problem.” Bridgette is proud of the progress they have been able to make thus far, but also the inspiration to continue working to create a more equitable world.
Watch Bridgette’s acceptance speech below: