By Timothy Shannon, First Army Division EastJune 14, 2011
FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, Md. -- According to a recent report from Vice Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Peter Chiarelli, 301 Soldiers were lost to suicide Army-wide in 2010. Records at First Army Division East indicate that, since their inception in March 2007, they haven’t lost a Soldier to suicide in the unit’s short history.
This fact is not lost on Division East’s Chaplain Lt. Col. Trenton Lewis, as the overseer of the division’s suicide prevention program.
“One suicide is one too many for me, especially as a chaplain,” said Lewis. “We do the Army’s ‘Shoulder to Shoulder’ training and are planning to do Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training through Livingworks Communication for the unit.”
Lewis explained that ASIST is a program that puts people through scenarios so that they can actually experience what they may have to do or say if put into a situation where one is dealing with a suicidal individual.
“I like this program best,” said Lewis. “For me, ASIST is the way to go. It’s the best thing out there.”
Another tool at the disposal of First Army Division East leaders to combat suicide is the A.C.E. program.
“A.C.E. stands for ask your buddy directly if he or she is thinking of killing themselves; care for your buddy by removing any means that could be used for self-injury; and escort your buddy to see a chaplain, behavioral health professional, or someone in their chain of command,” said Maj. Latonya Walker, a nurse with the Division East Surgeon’s Office.
Walker further explained that the A.C.E. program relies on Soldiers to take care of each other, and that it is applicable at all levels of military rank.
“Suicide isn’t just a problem for the enlisted ranks,” Lewis said. “It affects Soldiers at all ranks and experience levels in the Army.”
Headquarters, Headquarters Detachment Commander Capt. Bruce Pauley, like Lewis and Walker, supports the division’s proactive suicide program.
"It is imperative that we at Division East continue to maintain a proactive suicide prevention program for our Soldiers,” Pauley said.
“We need to continue to train and emphasize the importance to our Soldiers to look out for one another and know how to look for those recognizable signs. Know where and who to go to and get the help they or their battle buddies need, all derived from the training they would receive here at Division East,” he continued. “After all, there's not one Soldier's life that’s less valuable."