By Randy Murray, Fort Stewart Public AffairsSeptember 5, 2008
FORT STEWART, GA -- More than a fourth of the 115 Soldiers who committed suicide last year never deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan. According to Maj. Christopher Warner, Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield's Chief of the Department of Behavioral Medicine, the Army recognizes there are different stress factors between the military and the civilian world, particularly among new Soldiers. "
Even before [Soldiers] deploy, we know that the current Army environment is a higher stress environment than the civilian community," Warner explained, noting the horrors of war are only one aspect of the higher stress levels Soldiers face day to day.
"One of the highest periods of stress that Soldiers will face is their arrival to their initial duty station. We need to help new Soldiers transition into this new environment." He discussed various on-going programs and services that are provided for new Soldiers and their Families here at Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield, to include services provided through Army Community Services, chaplain services and Winn Army Community Hospital.
The key to providing these services, he said was making the Soldier aware of them. Getting this information to the Soldiers is something Warner said leaders are trying to address. Warner said Stewart-Hunter leadership is committed to helping Soldiers and their Families adapt to their new environment and get settled in.
One of the new leaders' programs set to begin Suicide Prevention Week, Sept. 7-13 is the Suicide Prevention Review Board. He said this review board will allow leaders to share lessons learned, not just at this installation but throughout the Army. These lessons will allow the Army to implement what Warner called dynamic policy changes necessary to address new issues as they come along.
"Every Soldier is of the utmost importance, and we have to do everything possible to protect and serve each of them," Warner said as he reviewed the objectives of Suicide Prevention Week, the warning signs of someone contemplating suicide and the Army programs and services intended to help prevent suicide.
"We encourage every Soldier who knows another Soldier who's dealing with stressful issues to help that Soldier get help. And if you are having problems yourself, don't be afraid to ask for help. No Soldier can be left behind." I
n addition to the resources available to Soldiers and their Families through medical and religious services, ACS provides several support groups and offers a number of programs and services to help deal with the stress of living in a military environment. Some these support groups include Military and Family Life Consultants, Hearts Apart, the Financial Readiness Team and the Relocation Readiness Team.
Some ACS programs and services available to help Soldiers and their Families deal with stress include training for Family Readiness Group members, Chill and Chat and Job Hunting 101, as well as combat stress, parenting, debt-free and stress management workshops, the Exceptional Family Member Program, Army Family Team Building Program and Victim Advocate Program.
For more information about ACS programs and services, call 767-5058 at Stewart or 315-6816 at Hunter.