By Rick Scavetta, U.S. Army Garrison KaiserslauternDecember 22, 2011
LANDSTUHL, Germany -- While many folks during this season are filled with festive cheer, Soldiers living in the barracks overseas might find themselves facing the holidays blues.
At U.S. Army Garrison Kaiserslautern, volunteers from Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers hung door hangers with important suicide prevention awareness information on every barracks door in the area.
"It means a great deal to me to have all the Soldiers remember they are needed, that they are loved and we hope that everybody will make the right decision," said Spc. Travis Housekeeper, a Soldier assigned to Company B, Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, who helped place the hangers.
While statistics show that suicide rates don't necessarily spike during the holidays, there's always a chance of catching the holiday blues, said Lisa Velez, U.S. Army Garrison Kaiserslautern's Suicide Prevention Program Lead, Prevention Coordinator. Distance from families stateside can add to those feelings, she said.
"What we can do here in our community is to create the family feeling that the military provides," Velez said "Go out to Christmas markets."
Finding other ways to connect with family back home, such as online communication tools, is also a way to stay in touch during the holidays. There are local resources if Soldiers need help, Velez said.
In all, 40 BOSS volunteers successfully completed the daylong project, using more than 1215 door hangers -- each roughly the size of your average "do not disturb" sign, said Susanna Leist, the garrison's Recreation Delivery System Coordinator. They left their marks on barracks in Landstuhl, Miesau, Rhine Ordnance Barracks, Daenner Kaserne, Kleber Kaserne and Sembach Kaserne, she said.
The BOSS program, part of Kaiserslautern Family, Morale Welfare and Recreation, supports several community events -- but suicide prevention awareness is personal to Soldiers, said Sgt. 1st Class Michael Kufro, Company A, Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, who took part in the event.
"It's very important to look after and take care of each other and make sure we're taking care of our battle buddies," Kufro said.