DOD Recognizes ‘Connect to Protect: Support is Within Reach’ as top suicide prevention program

By Antwaun ParrishSeptember 12, 2023

Since 2016, the Department of Defense has honored exemplary programs of each military department, for their exceptional efforts to increase suicide prevention awareness and community through engagement throughout the month of September--which is Suicide Prevention Month.

This year U.S. Army Garrison Rheinland-Pfalz was selected as the Army recipient of the 2021-2022 DoD Suicide Prevention Recognition Program. USAG R-P developed events and activities through efforts to promote suicide prevention, education, resources, connectedness, and help-seeking among Service members and their families.

“The programs developed by Army installations worldwide help us to be proactive in our prevention efforts,” said Dee Geise, Directorate of Prevention, Resilience and Readiness chief. “We value our teams across the Army and want to ensure we do our best to recognize them for their world-class efforts.

USAG R-P Army Substance Abuse Program facilitated the community ready and resilience (CR2) process, including the use of various forums to prioritize community risks which are heavily weighted on the proximal factors of suicide.

The USAG R-P CR2 work groups used the prioritized risks to develop mitigation strategies for use at the company level, thus keeping a year-long and continuous focus on suicide awareness and prevention. Additionally, ASAP led and participated in six major suicide awareness events

while sustaining monthly and quarterly community outreach obligations.

Suicide prevention awareness activities utilized a combination of community activities, targeted trainings, and Soldier/Family-centric events to educate community members on the importance of creating and maintaining strong connections as a protective factor against suicide.

Some of USAG R-P events focused on leader engagement, leveraging helping agencies, improving resiliency skills, integration into the overseas environment and building relationships.

Some of the events are highlighted below.

safeTALK for Leaders

USAG R-P ASAP conducted a safeTALK workshop for 12 company command teams on the installation. They used the evidenced-based curriculum to deliver skill enhancement to commanders and first sergeants to better identify suicide risks, overcome barriers to communication, discuss suicide alternatives, and connect at-risk individuals to resources. Post-workshop surveys validated improved confidence in attendee ability to successfully intervene with Soldiers at risk for suicide.

Ready and Resilience Nuggets (R2N)


In support of postvention efforts, Soldiers from the 512th Field Hospital delivered a series of

TED talk-style trainings on methods to reduce stress, improve focus, and build habits to

support resiliency and reduce high-risk behaviors proximal to suicide. The R2Ns are 20-minute

sessions designed as tools to use in everyday life. Topics included mindful breathing,

growth from adversity, communication, sleep hygiene and money management. Experts from various resilience agencies participated in the weekly sessions which occurred over three months.

Resilience Olympics

ASAP was a featured participant in Landstuhl Regional Medical Center’s Resilience

Olympics. Soldiers competed as 8-person teams to perform various fitness challenges.

Resilience agencies, such as nutrition care, sleep management, chaplains, behavioral health,

and physical therapy participated in activities with Soldiers, distributed resource materials and

provided awareness of their services. The objective of the event was to promote holistic care as a means to enhance Soldier skills in the pillars of physical, mental, and spiritual resiliency while

connecting with each other using exercise, teamwork and esprit de corps.

USAG R-P also developed community initiatives aimed at providing resources and information on suicide prevention. Some of those initiatives are listed below.

Connect with Vets


In collaboration with the Post-Retirement Services Program Office, ASAP staff taught

a workshop on suicide awareness and intervention techniques to 38 retired service members

and their spouses. Teaching focused on veteran suicide risks associated with aging and resources available to veterans living overseas; it also involved role-play exercises and a Q&A session. Participants expressed a deeper knowledge of the roles aging and medical vulnerability play in suicidality.

Soldier Stories

In an ongoing effort to increase awareness of alcohol misuse as a proximal factor of suicide,

ASAP staff created an educational video with five Prime for Life attendees telling their stories

on the impact alcohol misuse had on their lives and careers. Prime for Life is an evidence based motivational prevention, intervention and pretreatment program specifically designed for people who might be making high risk choices.

The video was presented to more than 300 high school students. As condensed version of the video was produced and shared on the USAG R-P Facebook page, which received a high volume of interactions.

Soldier-Family Readiness Training


As a mechanism to increase Soldier and Family readiness, community agencies provided

resilience training to increase protective factors and reduce proximal factors of suicide. 45-

minute workshops included self-regulation, coping skills, team building, spirituality and

mindful breathing.

According to the USAG R-P ASAP staff, data collected from the training indicated an increase in both social and emotional dimension components.

“We applaud the recipients of this prestigious award for their commitment to improving the climate for service members, Families, and DoD civilian personnel and developing engaging programs across all services,” said Carrie Shult, Ready and Resilient Integration Program manager.

DOD Recognizes ‘Connect to Protect: Support is Within Reach’ as top suicide prevention program
The 2021-2022 Suicide Prevention recognition ceremony hosted the Deputy Secretary of Defense, the Honorable Kathleen H. Hicks in the Hall of Heroes at the Pentagon, Arlington, Va., September 6, 2023. (U.S. Army photo by Mr. Leroy Council) (Photo Credit: Mr. Leroy Council) VIEW ORIGINAL