Crane Army Highlights Mental Health during Suicide Prevention Month
By Mallory HaagSeptember 29, 2020
The mental and physical strength of the workforce behind Crane Army Ammunition Activity is the reason why Crane Army is a premier shipper and producer of quality munitions. September is Suicide Prevention Month, an important time to raise awareness for people who suffer from suicidal ideations and other related factors which can erode that strength.CAAA’s ammunition mission requires its employees be fully engaged with the task at hand in order to ensure that the munitions we ship, store, produce and demilitarize are properly handled, and maintaining a positive physical and mental health is of the utmost importance because of the inherent risks involved.“Good mental health is just as important as physical well-being,” Crane Army Manufacturing and Engineering Director Paul Allswede said. “The energetics that we work with can be dangerous, so we need people that are mentally and physically present.”Crane Army provides the workforce with the tools they need to succeed, such as the Employee Assistance Program, an employee benefit program that offers longer term counseling to employees struggling with personal or professional issues that affect their mental well-being.“Taking that first step to talk to your supervisor and get started on your EAP is huge progress,” Allswede said. “Admitting you have an issue or concern is the first sign of strength to resolve the problem you’re facing.”Dennis Sickel, CAAA Deputy Director of Depot Operations, says that getting help often starts with the people who are closest. “There’s a lot of avenues out there to get people healthy, but sometimes it’s as simple as having someone that cares about them sitting down and listening to them,” Sickel said. “Sometimes they just need to be able to talk to somebody.”It’s for this reason that Crane Army also participates in suicide prevention awareness campaigns like the Department of Defense’s “Connect to Protect” campaign aimed at showing others how the connection to friends, family and resources can help to prevent suicide.Although the degree of severity amongst depression can vary, Dr. Chris Smelser, medical director of the Naval Branch Health Clinic Crane, said that more serious thoughts of suicide should be dealt with seriously and swiftly.“If someone is struggling with suicidal thoughts, they should probably come to the Crane Medical Clinic or to the emergency room or call 911,” Dr. Smelser said. “You shouldn’t wait those kinds of things out or let it get worse, because something could trigger those thoughts into action.”Suicide prevention and awareness is and will remain a priority for Crane Army. Supporting the employees who support the warfighter every day is something CAAA prides itself in and it will continue to provide the resources the workforce needs to do their best.“We are a family here and everyone is looking out for each other,” Sickel said. There are a lot of things we can do to help people who are going through hard times, but no one needs to face it alone.”Crane Army Ammunition Activity produces and provides conventional munitions in support of U.S. Army and Joint Force readiness. It is part of the Joint Munitions Command and the U.S. Army Materiel Command, which include arsenals, depots, activities and ammunition plants. Established Oct. 1977, it is located on Naval Support Activity Crane.