Fort Sill Soldiers stand-down to fight suicide
October 4, 2012
- "A stand-down is a chance to just get everybody to take a knee and say, 'Let's listen, let's talk. Let's see how we can get control of this situation.' Soldiers need the tools to help them be aware of when their battle buddies are hurting,"said Fort Sill Garrison Chaplain (Col.) Sherman Baker.
FORT SILL, Okla-- Fort Sill conducted a postwide suicide stand-down Sept. 27. All Soldiers and civilian government workers were directed to participate in different training activities around the post. Six sessions were conducted at Sheridan Theater, with more than 5,000 Soldiers and civilians attending.
Robert Dodrill, Suicide Prevention coordinator for Fort Sill's Army Substance Abuse Program, said overall the stand-down went well.
"We had a few hiccups with Soldiers and units showing up at Sheridan Theater when they weren't supposed to, but overall we trained many military and civilian personnel Thursday. We were able to train everybody that needed to be trained," he said.
One law enforcement official was quoted as saying 56 Soldiers asked for counseling because they had been considering suicide.
Fort Sill Garrison Chaplain (Col.) Sherman Baker led several of the training sessions at Sheridan Theater. He said this was the third suicide stand-down that he has participated in the past six years and he hopes the Army is making progress.
"A stand-down is a chance to just get everybody to take a knee and say, 'Let's listen, let's talk. Let's see how we can get control of this situation.' Soldiers need the tools to help them be aware of when their battle buddies are hurting," Baker said.
During the stand-down session Soldiers and civilians watched a video titled "Shoulder to Shoulder," that related testimonials of Soldiers, command officers, cadre sergeants, spouses and family members who experienced a suicide or near suicide of a Soldier. The impact of the video's message was not lost on the audience.
"What we learned from this video is we all have problems and issues and we all have challenges," said Baker. "We all experience hardships in life. None of us wake up in the morning and our schedules turn out to be just as we planned it the day before. And, so things happen.
"When you see that downward spiral in your buddy's life, you need the tools to identify that and begin asking questions and trying to get them help. The more we can talk about it, hopefully, that will equate to us having fewer deaths from suicide."
Baker went on to tell the group that the military wants them to be resilient, in mind, body and spirit, so they can cope with the problems they encounter. Soldiers also need to be equipped to help their battle buddies.
Dodrill said overall he thought the stand-down was a success
"Next year we are going to get multiple trainers ready to go and have the training at every auditorium on the installation, so that we can accommodate everybody that needs to be trained," he said.