By Spc. Michael Adams, 3rd ID Public AffairsOctober 14, 2010
FORT STEWART, Ga. - In order to evaluate the installation's knowledge of preventing Soldiers from taking their own lives, the Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield Suicide Prevention Task Force conducted a drill to test the Soldier's knowledge of ACE - Ask Care and Escort. These are the basic steps of what to do if a Soldier is contemplating suicide. A card with those words and instructions of what to do if someone approaches them saying they are thinking of committing suicide, is issued to every Soldier to make sure they know what to do should their battle buddy be depressed or thinking of suicide.
As part of this drill, Sgt. 1st Class Beverly Ware, a medical evacuation platoon sergeant with the Warrior Transition Unit, went to a fellow Soldier showing signs she was frustrated and unhappy, to test a random Soldier's knowledge of ACE.
The Soldier acted appropriately, asking if she was thinking of killing herself, and specifically asking if she wanted to see a chaplain or mental health professional, being supportive and non-confrontational in the process.
The Soldier referred her to the chaplain, who then referred her to the chain of command. The chaplain only did so at Sgt. 1st Class Ware's insistence.
The chaplain wanted to refer her to mental health, which was the correct thing to do. As part of the training, Sgt. 1st Class Ware went to her chain of command to make sure they would do the correct thing, which they did. They also referred her to mental health.
According to Alfrieda Adams, suicide prevention program manager for Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield, all of the participants in the drill took correct actions under ACE training.
"The drill was very successful," she said. "The Soldier, the chaplain and the command, they all tapped into every area of ACE. No one left any of it out."
Sergeant First Class Ware was shocked at how positive the exercise turned out, because she didn't think anyone would take her seriously.
"I was amazed everyone did what the ACE card says," she said.
She also emphasized how important it is for Soldiers to seek help if they are thinking of killing themselves.
"It's important, whether it's someone of equal rank or below, or higher, when they come to you with a problem, take it seriously. You never know [what may happen]. The ACE card does work."
The ACE program is not only for Soldiers. Everyone in the Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield community, ranging from civilian employees to Family Members has the opportunity to make a positive difference in someone's life who may be considering suicide, according to Adams.
For that reason, the task force is plans future drills to test suicide prevention awareness, both announced and unannounced. Future drills will include schools on post, child youth services and other facets of the installation.
For more information on suicide prevention or the ACE program, contact your unit chaplain or any mental health professional on Fort Stewart or Hunter Army Airfield.