Removing stigma associated with asking for help is key
Pacific Regional Medical Command
SCHOFIELD BARRACKS — More than 90 of U.S. Army-Hawaii’s battalion-level and above command team members took part in a terrain walk at U.S. Army Health Clinic-Schofield Barracks, here, Sept. 27.
During the terrain walk, command teams learned about behavioral health and substance abuse services available to their Soldiers and families.
The walk was just one of the many events throughout Army installations in support of the Armywide Suicide Prevention Stand Down.
According to the Army’s G1 Suicide Prevention website, www.preventsuicide.army.mil, the intent of a terrain walk for suicide prevention is to link leaders and their Soldiers with the activities and agencies that provide behavioral health services to the entire Army family.
The Embedded Behavioral Health Clinic hosted scheduled visits with all 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, command teams to let commanders and enlisted leaders meet their primary, secondary and tertiary behavioral health providers assigned to their particular unit.
“This helps put a name to a face and further builds trust between the two parties,” said Lt. Col. Wendi Waits, chief, Behavioral Health Services, USAHC-SB.
Embedded behavioral health is a key component of the Behavioral Health System of Care Campaign Plan, which aims to ensure seamless continuity of care to better identify, prevent, treat and track behavioral health issues that affect Soldiers and families during every phase of the Army Force Generation cycle.
The Warrior Behavioral Health Clinic created a display outside its clinic that represented the number of Soldiers Armywide who had taken their own life in July. Chairs were draped with brown T-shirts and were annotated with demographic information about each Soldier, visually showing that Soldiers in need come from all ranks and areas of the Army.
The Child and Family Assistance Center briefed visitors on information and services it provides for families, to include between spouses, between parents and children, and between children and teen-specific services.
Army Substance Abuse Program, or ASAP, staff briefed visitors on outreach programs and services, to include the Confidential Alcohol Treatment and Education Program, or CATEP, which is for Soldiers, as well as the varied services and support programs ASAP offers family members.
ASAP’s programs aim to meet the challenges of military readiness while supporting Soldier and family well-being.
Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Lloyd Austin III ordered the global stand down day in response to the release of July’s suicide figures. As of Sept. 25, 120 active duty Soldiers are confirmed to have taken their lives while another 67 deaths are under investigation in 2012.
“Suicide is the toughest enemy I have faced in my 37 years in the Army,” Austin said, adding that he believes it is preventable through solutions aimed at helping individuals build resiliency to help strengthen their life-coping skills.
Austin said the Army must continue to address the stigma associated with asking for help.
“Ultimately, we want the mindset across our force and society at large to be that behavioral health is a routine part of what we do and who we are as we strive to maintain our own physical and mental wellness,” Austin said.
The last Armywide suicide prevention stand down was held in 2009 and followed the train-the-trainer concept and how to recognize potential suicides.
This year’s program brings a more holistic approach to beating the epidemic, said Walter Morales, chief, Army Suicide Prevention Program.
Morales said Army suicides have more than doubled since 2004.
“This is absolutely a battle that we have to engage in every single day,” said Lt. Gen. Howard Bromberg, Army chief of staff for personnel.
(Editor’s Note: Army News Service contributed to the content of this article.)
Suicide Prevention Resources and Outreach
The Army has created the following resources to help win the war on suicide:
•Army suicide prevention training resources at www.preventsuicide.army.mil.
•A video addressed to Soldiers from U.S. Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Lloyd Austin III at http://bcove.me/ix5b1qi1.
See photos of Suicide Prevention Stand Down Day in Hawaii at www.flickr.com/photos/tripleramc/sets/72157631647144482.