By Mr. Stephen Standifird (Leonard Wood)October 6, 2016
More than 25 Fort Leonard Wood company command teams attended a resilience seminar in Lincoln Hall Auditorium Sept. 28, where they had the opportunity to ask questions to a panel of six people who had experience in handling suicide.
"Everybody (on the panel) is here today because they have a unique experience tied to suicide," said Lt. Col. Chad Goyette, U.S. Army Military Police School chief of staff and director of Plans and Operations.
The panel included Capt. Burke Lenz, a licensed clinical social worker, and Jody Carmack, a Survivor Outreach Support coordinator with Army Community Service, who provides support to Families and service members, and four people with a tie to someone who committed suicide.
This seminar was a way for the command teams to hear how suicide affected each panel member and what resources are available on Fort Leonard Wood for someone seeking help, said Capt. Demetrick Bennett, USAMPS Plans and Operations officer.
A negative stigma is often associated with seeking help for issues service members may be facing, especially if the help needed is from behavioral health, Bennett said. Bennett and Goyette both addressed that stigma, saying leaders need to change that mentality.
"You, as company commanders and first sergeants, have the ability to get rid of that stigma," Goyette said. "How you react to someone seeking help will either reaffirm or fix that stigma."
The panel responded to various questions from the command teams, focusing on ideas on how to help employees and Soldiers if there is a sign of suicide and helping an office or organization respond to a suicide.
Panel member Catherine Johnson, who is a surviving spouse of a Soldier who committed suicide, said the key for the command groups is support.
"Support them in every way you can when your Soldiers seek help," she said.
Col. Heath Roscoe, Maneuver Support Center of Excellence and Fort Leonard Wood chief of staff, encouraged the command teams to be engaged with their Soldiers.
"When you recognize somebody is at a low point in their life, you have got to be there for them, you have got to know your Soldiers," he said. "As leadership, there are a lot of resources here to get that Soldier the help they need."
At the end of the seminar, Bennett said he hoped the command teams would take the information from the panel back to their units.
"(I hope this seminar) gives them a better outlook on suicide prevention and the awareness of suicide within their organizations," he said.
The Casualty Assistance Center and Survivor Outreach Services with ACS is available for service members and leadership who are looking for more information, Carmack said.
"We can provide guidance as to what needs may arise and what resources there are to resolve those needs," she said.
ACS is located in Building 486 and can be reached at 573.596.0131, ext. 0212.