By Christine JuneMarch 18, 2009
KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany -- Just as NCOs are the backbone of the Army, Staff. Sgt. Jonathan Vinson provided consistency and structure to all eight suicide prevention training presentations held the first two weeks in March throughout the Kaiserslautern military community.
"He was my backbone - keeping the presentations moving forward," said the U.S. Army Garrison Kaiserslautern's Commander Lt. Col. Mechelle Hale, who was the facilitator for the trainings held for garrison Soldiers, civilians and family members.
Hale picked Vinson, who is the garrison Chaplain's Office religious support operations NCOIC, to assist with the trainings as the garrison's command sergeant major was in the states for a conference.
"Without question, he stepped up for the task and did extremely well," she said.
Kaiserslautern chain-teaching programs were a part of the Installation Management Command's directed suicide prevention stand down, which had to be completed by March 15. This new program began just a month before the deadline with the goal of increasing community awareness of suicide risk factors and warning signs and intervention guidelines.
Military officials reported that suicidal behavior among U.S. service members was at an all-time high in 2008, with 143 Soldiers taking their own lives.
Presentations revolved around the "Beyond the Front" interactive video with facilitators and narrators engaging the audience on the decision-making process in saving a Soldier's life. For all the trainings held here, Vinson ran the program making sure to stick with the facilitator's flow and the audiences' responses, for the three garrison-sponsored presentations, he also served as the narrator.
"Such interaction made the training personal and interesting, and the video we watched along with the narration done by (Staff) Sgt. Vinson was excellent," said Lisa Hartmann, the garrison's Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation marketing program manager, who attended the garrison-sponsored training held March 11 at the Galaxy Theatre on Vogelweh. "He has this wonderful voice that is full of empathy, and he was able to get the points across to every single person sitting in the theater."
Making sure that everyone gets the point was always on Vinson's mind as he was relating the information from the screen to the audience.
"With my deep and loud voice, it makes Soldiers pay attention so they are actually hearing the material - this is extremely important, especially when talking about the triggers that are common with Soldiers," said Vinson, who has been with the Chaplain Corps for his entire 15-year Army career and is a certified suicide prevention instructor.
Sgt. 1st Class Carolyn Johnson, the garrison's Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobility and Security operations NCO, told Vinson several times how much she enjoyed the training and his voice.
"I really enjoyed this type of training because there was more interaction than most I've attended," said Johnson, who has been in the Army for 20 years. "(Vinson) has an excellent voice - he should be on the radio."
Excellent as Vinson's voice was during the trainings, he also provided another crucial role as the logistician for all the trainings held here that were conducted on five Army kasernes, from Landstuhl Regional Medical Center to Kleber Kaserne, which is almost 20 miles. This required setting up all equipment including the all important - sound system. Again, all eight trainings were held in a two-week period.
"Yes, you could say that (Staff) Sgt. Vinson was the backbone of these trainings," said Meghan Roberts, who is the garrison's Sexual Assault Response coordinator, and who attended all the trainings as a subject matter expert.
Another subject matter expert attending all of the trainings was Lauren Mullins, the U.S. Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventive Medicine-Europe health promotion coordinator, who operates the program in the KMC.
"He kept the trainings moving forward and running smoothly," she said.