By Wendy Trotter, Derek Ferrell and Lt. Col. Amelia Duran-StantonMarch 19, 2019
Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston, Texas -- Suicide Prevention is an integral component of the Army's Readiness and Resiliency strategy. The U.S. Army Installation Management Command Ready and Resilient/Army Substance Abuse Program division presented the second annual Suicide Prevention Program Managers Course March 5-8 in San Antonio, Texas. This course prepared garrison SPPMs to support the Army's mission to combat, detect and prevent suicide.
The course provided dynamic and innovative training supported by academic disciplines to 22 IMCOM garrison SPPMs. The course was designed to equip SPPMs to effectively serve Soldiers, Army civilians and Family members at garrisons. The course provided information on a variety of topics such as Army suicide trends and Health of the Force data analysis, DCS G1 SHARP/Readiness and Resiliency vision for suicide prevention, Army Materiel Command wellness programs, and leveraging outside resources.
Participants also heard presentations from Army Public Health Center, Brooke Army Medical Center Behavioral Health, Stop Texas Suicides, and IMCOM G9 Army Community Services. The course also included a presentation on ENGAGE Training for Trainers (T4T) by the Fort Hood MRT contractors. HQDA DCS G1 SR2 has identified ENGAGE as the primary tool moving forward to address the preventative training needs of the Army for substance abuse and suicide prevention. Participants also discussed SPPM responsibilities, the Suicide Prevention Way Forward Training, and select garrisons shared their innovative best practices.
The course provided ample opportunity for rich dialogue from varying perspectives and set the stage for ongoing networking relationships. SPPM Course attendees ranged in tenure from 6 months to nine years. The more senior and seasoned course participants were also guest presenters, sharing their knowledge, skills and experiences.
Course attendees represented the following Army installations: USAG Bavaria, Germany; Fort Belvoir, Virginia; USAG Benelux, Belgium; Fort Campbell, Kentucky; Fort Detrick, Maryland; Fort Gordon, Georgia; Fort Greely, Alaska; Fort Irwin, California; JBSA-Fort Sam Houston, Texas; Fort Knox, Kentucky; Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri; McAlester Army Ammunition Plant, Oklahoma; Fort McCoy, Wisconsin; Fort Polk, Louisiana; Fort Stewart, Georgia; USAG Vicenza, Italy; Yuma Proving Ground, Arizona; Dugway Proving Ground, Utah; and Pine Bluff Arsenal, Arkansas.
Guest speakers included Roderick Johnson (AMC), Capt. Richard Schobitz and Maj. Raymond Beckman (BAMC Behavioral Health), Jill Wierzba (MRT), John Wills (APHC), Dr. Kelly Forys-Donahue (APHC), Lisa Sullivan (Stop Texas Suicides), Kimberly Garcia (Vogel Resiliency Center), Casey Olson (HQDA DCS G1 S/R2), as well as several other guest speakers and SPPM training attendees.
The SPPM Course achieved the objective of providing information and strategies designed to significantly enhance and assist SPPMs in executing the suicide prevention function at the garrison level as well as techniques for "training the trainer." The course centered on making the program more prevention focused and on enhancing current suicide prevention initiatives. It also equipped attendees with ready-made tools and techniques to assist with achieving "quick wins" in the areas of suicide prevention, program focus and marketing, training, needs assessments, high-performing garrison Suicide Prevention Task Forces and Suicide Response Teams.