The relationship with Fort Jackson was one reason the South Carolina chapter of a major suicide prevention organization received national accolades, the post's program manager said.

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, the nation's largest suicide prevention organization, recently recognized the South Carolina Chapter with its Chapter of the Year Award at its annual leadership conference in Charlotte.

"Fort Jackson and AFSP have worked in support of one another for nearly 10 years," said Aljournal Franklin, Fort Jackson Suicide Prevention Manager. "We were highlighted as one of the most advanced partnerships within AFSP, and served to mentor other Chapters from across the country."

While not the direct cause for the chapter winning the award, the relationship with Fort Jackson and other organizations played a part in the recognition, said the S.C. area director of the AFSP.

"We are indeed thankful for our partnership with Fort Jackson, the Dorn VA, South Carolina National Guard, and the S.C. Veterans Policy Academy," said Helen Pridgen. "We have all come a long way together and we have miles yet to go. There is so much yet to do in suicide prevention efforts and our partnerships support saving lives and bringing hope to those affected by suicide.

Fort Jackson, and the S.C. Area Chapter of AFSP are seen as being a premier example of how this agreement should be carried out based on the fluidity of our relationship and the level of collaboration we share, Franklin said.

Both AFSP, and Fort Jackson work in the community with organizations like the Suicide Prevention Program at the Dorn VA, the National Guard, and the U.S. Army Reserve Commands' Suicide Prevention Programs, and the Veteran's Policy Committee spearheaded by retired Maj Gen. George Goldsmith.

"We have all worked in concert with one another to make suicide prevention efforts reach not only our active duty Soldiers, but our Guardsmen, Reservists, and veterans on a comprehensive level," Franklin said.

While the installation and AFSP have a history of working closely together, the national push for collaboration between military and civilian organizations began in earnest in 2017 when the Department of Defense Suicide Prevention Office signed a Memorandum of Understanding with AFSP and "Psych-Armour" during the DOD Suicide Prevention Conference in Denver.

Pridgen is a regular speaker, presenter and supporter of Fort Jackson's program, while Franklin has led a team of walkers annually for nearly five years in the AFSP Out of Darkness Walks in Columbia, South Carolina, and has participated in the chapter's initiatives and planning meetings annually since 2012.

The collaboration between Fort Jackson and the AFSP is so close the post program was invited to host breakout sessions during the meeting.

"We were invited to present based on the length and depth of our collaborations, our breakout session centered on the fact that Fort Jackson and AFSP have worked in support of one another for nearly 10 years," he said. "We were highlighted as one of the most advanced partnerships within AFSP, and served to mentor other chapters from across the country."

AFSP Chief Executive Officer Robert Gebbia said the S.C. Chapter was "recognized for its suicide prevention efforts to transform their community through education, awareness and support for those who are struggling or who have experienced a loss."