Lt. Gen. Christopher Cavoli, commanding general, U.S. Army Europe, presented coins to Sgt. Dalton Phillips and Sgt. Jeodeni Lima Jr., both Stryker systems maintainers in Dakota Troop, 1st Squadron, 2d Cavalry Regiment, on Feb. 11, 2020. Cavoli traveled to Tower Barracks in Grafenwoehr, Germany, to recognize each Soldier for their act of courage in preventing another Soldier's suicide.
Cavoli joined Col. Thomas Hough, the 80th colonel of the regiment, 2CR, and Command Sgt. Maj. Michael Burke, senior enlisted advisor, 2CR, in praising the two noncommissioned officers for their heroism.
On Jan. 23, 2020, Phillips received a troubling phone call from a staff sergeant in his troop, in which the Soldier stated that he had written a suicide note and felt a lack of purpose in his life.
Phillips immediately contacted Lima, who was located in the same barracks as the caller, and the two took action, speaking with the Soldier who had expressed suicidal thoughts. After 45 minutes of speaking with him, they successfully calmed him down, but they continued to monitor him and preemptively performed safety measures by removing all harmful items from the Soldier's barracks room.
Later that evening, Lima checked on the Soldier but found him unconscious and slouched in his chair. He immediately contacted the ambulance, traveled to the hospital and remained with the Soldier at the hospital until the following afternoon, when his platoon sergeant relieved him.
Through their actions, Phillips and Lima saved the life of not only a colleague but also their friend.
When Cavoli asked them about the lessons they had learned from the experience, they emphasized the role that alcohol abuse played in exacerbating the scenario.
"A lot of people try to use alcohol as a short-term escape from any issues they may be having, but it just doesn't work," said Lima. "You can't use alcohol to make any problems you're facing go away, and you shouldn't use them to suppress your feelings."
Phillips also noted that, particularly among the unaccompanied enlisted Soldiers living in barracks, feelings of loneliness and isolation can become commonplace and in extreme cases may lead to suicidal ideation.
"A lot of single Soldiers make the conscious choice to stay in their barracks rooms when they're not at work," said Phillips offering his words of advice. "But, we're in the middle of central Europe, surrounded by things to do and places to see. Get out and travel."
Above all, Lima and Phillips identified the cohesive culture of the Army as being the driving force that compelled them toward their act of heroism.
"We're all a family in our unit," concluded Lima. "Looking after one another is second nature to us."