By Somer Breeze-HansonSeptember 27, 2011
JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash., Sept. 27, 2011 -- Gary Ouellette, who has worked in suicide prevention the past two decades, took a few more steps for the cause last week.
On Sept. 14 he joined Soldiers, civilians and spouses for the annual Walk 4 Life on Joint Base Lewis-McChord. The two and one-half mile walk was held to raise awareness for suicide prevention.
The reason to participate in the Walk 4 Life was obvious for Ouellette, who currently works with the Warrior Transition Battalion.
"Because I care," he said.
Participants gathered in front of the garrison headquarters, Building 1010, at 6:45 a.m. during physical training hours and listened to a brief message by Steve Kosylo, JBLM suicide prevention coordinator.
"We're linking together as a community to make a difference," he told his audience. "One death is too many."
Bill Howard III, site manager for the JBLM Army Comprehensive Soldier Fitness -- Performance and Resilience Enhancement Program, was the guest speaker and started the event by sharing his own personal stories working with Soldiers who struggled with mental and physical adversities.
"Every person matters," Howard said. "Sometimes whether it's us, or the person in crisis, we don't always know exactly what to do."
Howard encouraged the audience to seek out master resilience trainers to aid them in improving their resilience skills to better equip them when faced with adversity.
Both representatives of the Army and Air Force were present for the walk, which started east on Pendleton, circled around 14th Street and back toward garrison headquarters. Participants held signs that read, "Have the courage to help a buddy."
The walk not only raised awareness for those who participated, but also for those who saw the walk. Some passengers in cars driving down Pendleton asked the walkers what they were walking for. Others waved and signaled their support with thumbs up.
"It's really important to have these types of events because it raises community awareness and it allows the community to see it's OK to support each other and to support people who are going through assistance," said Vicki Duffy, suicide prevention program manager.