FORT KNOX, Ky. — Personnel from five Army installations were recognized as Ready and Resilient Guardians of the Quarter during a U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command R2 Council video teleconference July 26.
Among them, Fort Knox’s Suicide Prevention Program lead, Shirley Johnson, said while it was an honor to receive the accolade from a four-star level commander, he considered who nominated him to be more worthy of praise.
“What meant most to me about this was, it was a company commander who put me in for the award,” said Johnson, “Most of these people are put in by their command. I was put in by a company commander who said that I helped him to reduce risk in his unit and help prevent suicides.”
That commander, Capt. Christopher Rosado of Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, Fort Knox Garrison, witnessed Johnson’s training sessions with his Soldiers and the kind of care and concern Johnson has toward them.
Johnson said those training sessions and briefings are more than just words to him.
“This is an ongoing relationship with units on the installation; it’s not just a one-time thing for me,” said Johnson. “[Rosado] being open enough to allow me to be part of the unit, that makes sense.”
Rosado’s recommendation highlights Johnson’s management and oversight of the Suicide Prevention Program for six two-star commands and the entire Fort Knox community. His program provides personnel with four stages of critical suicide prevention training as well as a Prime for Life program that increases awareness, teaches prevention techniques and enhances Soldier life skills.
On the same day Johnson received the award, he also found out his role is changing a bit. Under a new regulation called “The Prevention Workforce,” Johnson could potentially receive a team of others who will assist in developing the Suicide Prevention Program. As well, he will no longer be the Suicide Prevention manager.
Johnson’s new title is Suicide Prevention Program coordinator.
“Managers manage people, coordinators coordinate programs,” said Johnson. “This is a change for the good. In the world of prevention, we have three levels: primary, secondary and tertiary. Tertiary is more or less assessment and treatment — I don’t get into that. I deal with primary and secondary.”
Johnson explained that under the title adjustment, he will focus mostly on the secondary aspect of the program. While the primary role, equipping the installation with life skills and coping skills, is an interest of his, his greatest joy is in directly helping others.
“I will identify people who may be in trouble because of high risk behavior,” said Johnson. “Then I’ll equip the installation to make sure those people are taken care of.”