By DELAWESE FULTON, Fort Jackson LeaderJuly 16, 2009
FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- Fort Jackson will host Army Training and Leadership Development presentations about managing post-traumatic stress disorder July 27 and 28.
The guest speaker will be retired Command Sgt. Maj. Samuel Rhodes.
Rhodes, a PTSD survivor and a former commander of the 192nd Infantry Brigade at Fort Benning, Ga., will first speak to drill sergeants and Advanced Individual Training platoon sergeants at the NCO Club, beginning at 10 a.m. Afterward, he will speak to medical professionals at Moncrief Army Community Hospital at 1 p.m. and go back to the NCO Club to speak to company-level and above leadership at 3 p.m.
Rhodes will also speak to Soldiers and staff at the Soldier Support Institute on July 28 at 3 p.m., said Capt. Ric Haeussler of Fort Jackson's strategic planning office. Haeussler said Rhodes' message and insight are valuable to all of Army's leadership.
In his presentation, "Changing the Army's Culture of Silence," Rhodes shares his emotional struggles as a Soldier, dealing with the effects of combat and how he got the help he needed to overcome those issues.
"I am a survivor of (war). I could have easily died like many of my fellow warriors, but for some reason God has allowed me to live. (So,) I have a huge debt to each one of those 37 warriors who died during my tours of duty ...," said Rhodes, who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom 1, 2 and 3, totaling 30 months of combat experience.
Rhodes served close to 30 years in the Army. Among his numerous awards are the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star, and the Order of St. Maurice. The Order of Saint Maurice is awarded by the National Infantry Association and the Chief of Infantry of the U.S. Army.
Also in his presentations, Rhodes said he discusses the importance of Soldiers' sharing their feelings. He said because of societal conditioning, male Soldiers often resist talking about how they feel. He said it is critical for leaders to provide an environment where Soldiers -- male and female -- feel they can open up.
Communication and understanding are key to helping Soldiers overcome PTSD.
"And, the long-term (goal) is to prevent suicide," Rhodes said.
Rhodes was also a presenter at the DoD Suicide Prevention Conference in San Antonio, Texas, in January. His upcoming Fort Jackson presentation follows several leadership forums that have been held on post since February.