COLUMBIA, S.C. - The month of September is known as Suicide Prevention Month in the Army. This month, the Army takes the time to bring awareness to ways we can combat suicide and prevent Soldiers, civilians and family members from harming themselves.The 81st Regional Support Command's Ready and Resilient Campaign is leaning forward to support the decrease of these incidents within the Army Reserve ranks by combining the efforts of other Soldier wellness programs such as Sexual Harassment and Assault Response Program (SHARP) an the Army Substance Abuse Program to promote overall resiliency.The Ready and Resilient Campaign team hosted a workshop at U.S. Army Southern Command in Miami, Fla. August 19-20, 2014. The workshop was designed to combine the efforts of the Suicide Prevention Program and SHARP.The workshop provided information updates and valuable discussion to attendees on two key elements of resiliency; SHARP and the Ask, Care, Escort -- Suicide Intervention Course (ACE-SI). Participants in this pilot event included 28 members of Army Reserve organizations across the country, and an active duty participant.The two-day workshop began with a daylong ACE-SI course, taught by, Aljournal Franklin, 81st RSC Suicide Prevention Program manager. As the coordinator for the region, Franklin is charged with training trainers in the area of identifying and preventing suicide among the ranks of Army Reserve Soldiers.
"It's important for all gatekeepers and caregivers to identify signs that a member of our military may be contemplating suicide," said Franklin. "Training such as ACE-SI provides fundamental and foundational training that will give our gate keepers a more sensitive disposition when working with Soldiers and civilians under our charge."The second day of the workshop concentrated on the SHARP program. Led by 81st RSC SHARP coordinator, Tommy White, the speakers on day two also included Maj. Vincent Smith, 81st RSC Special Victim Counselor, an active duty SHARP representative from Fort Polk, and an Army Reserve presenter from Fort Belvoir. The subjects covered on the second day included updates to the SHARP policy such as the role of the Special victim counselor and change in the role of the Victim Advocate from a person that accepts sexual assault reports to an adviser to the commander."The importance of what we are dong here, is bringing civilians and Soldiers from all over to reach a common goal," said White. "There is a wealth of knowledge in this room, and the information we share makes us all better at supporting Soldiers."All of the workshop attendees had two things in common; they hold positions that promote Soldier wellness, and are committed to protecting the Soldiers they support from harm."The training was presented in a way where cross-training could be done," said Tandra Hunter, attendee and Suicide Prevention Program Manager for 3rd Medical Command in Fort Gillem, Ga. "Many sexual assault cases have the potential to lead to suicide attempts or ideations and we need to be able to step in to prevent this from happening."Overall the training provided a forum for practitioners within the Suicide Prevention Program and SHARP to learn methods to prevent incidents and share best practices to advise commanders and Soldiers. The number of suicides and reported sexual assaults and harassment cases among the Army ranks make it clear that their combined efforts for prevention are vital to the mission of their supported commands.In addition to bringing this first group together, Franklin and White plan to host the workshop quarterly with participants from varied ranks. The next step will be incorporating the Drug Demand Reduction Coordinator to the training team.The 81st RSC Ready and Resilient Campaign leaders want the concept of combining resiliency programs in this fashion to catch on, and are committed to encouraging other leaders to incorporate these types of collaborative events into their training. White traveled to share the outcome the event with the SHARP Baseline Training Course graduates at Fort Belvoir, Va. Aug.t 29 with that idea in mind."I think that everyone should reach out between commands and areas to build partnerships," said White. "What we were able to do with our training was learn a little about each other's programs that we would not know if we don't ever step out of our own lanes."Participants in the event agree. "As a chaplain I feel this training was very beneficial to me," said Chaplain (Capt.) Anthony Woodard. "I was able to hear other Soldiers' point of view on ACE and how they are educating their units."