CAMP HENRY, Daegu, Korea - According to the National Institute of Mental health, suicide is among the leading causes of death in the United States and claims thousands of lives each year. Suicide prevention education could mean the difference between life and death and one Soldier proved this by putting his training to use.
Pfc. Julio Nunez Oliveros is a Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear Specialist assigned to the 142nd Military Police Company, 94th Military Police Battalion, 19th Expeditionary Sustainment Command, and is a native of Chicago, Illinois. While out for a bite to eat, Nunez Oliveros saw a young man who did not seem quite right. He approached the stranger and began a casual conversation with him. Shortly after, Nunez Oliveros knew something was seriously wrong.
"After talking to him for a little bit, I finally scratched the surface and found out he was suffering over family issues and from being far away from his loved ones," said Nunez Oliveros. "I knew I had to be a good listener, so I stayed with him and gave him my ear for a while."
During their conversation, the man explained he had thoughts of ending his life that night. Nunez Oliveros made the decision to stay with him and sought help. The Army's suicide prevention training program, ACE, calls for Soldiers to Ask, Care, and Escort their fellow Soldiers who may be thinking of killing themselves. The training instructs Soldiers to directly ask the Soldier if they are thinking about hurting themselves. If so, they must then care for the Soldier and escort the Soldier to seek professional help.
Nunez Oliveros put this training to use by making the call and waited for the military police to arrive.
"I stayed with him because I wanted to make sure he was going to be ok," said Nunez Oliveros. I rode with him to the hospital where they took him in and cared for him."
Nunez Oliveros' actions earned him the respect of his fellow Soldiers. He was presented a commander's coin and the U.S. Army Achievement Medal from Brig. Gen. Michel M. Russell Sr., commanding general of the 19th Expeditionary Sustainment Command for doing the right thing that day. Nunez Oliveros was also praised by his unit's leaders for his selfless service.
"It's not easy asking a complete stranger if he or she is thinking of hurting themselves," said 1st Sgt. Brian S. Letterle, First Sergeant of the 142nd MP Co., and is a native of Sheffield Lake, Ohio. "The personal courage Pfc. Nunez Oliveros displayed is a testament to effective training, his character as a human being who cares for others, and living the Army Values. He did an outstanding job and is an example for all to emulate."
With a potentially deadly situation prevented, Nunez Oliveros now spreads his story and message.
"If you see something, say something," says Nunez Oliveros. "We are all brothers and sisters of the same Army family and we need to look out for one another. That's what I would expect my family to do for me. Take time to notice when things aren't right, then take action."