By Sgt. Gaelen Lowers, 8th Theater Sustainment Command Public AffairsOctober 19, 2012
FORT SHAFTER FLATS, Hawaii -- Suicide amongst Soldiers is at an all-time high rate, and the Army and the 8th Special Troops Battalion, 8th Theater Sustainment Command, wants to find a solution.
Their solution: resiliency.
"Who has been to a suicide prevention class before?" asked Lt. Col. Matthew Goodman, commander, 8th STB. "Everyone. Who has done online training? Everybody. We wanted to do something a little different."
The 8th STB devoted the Armywide Suicide Prevention Stand Down, Sept. 27, to conducting classes about the stressful areas in a Soldier and family member's life: financial readiness, relationships, legal concerns and life events.
"We are not going to go traditional and talk about the signs and symptoms of suicide," said Sgt. Maj. Jonathan Napier, operations sergeant major, 8th STB. "Every one of our Soldiers has received that training before. We want to push our Soldiers in the direction of resiliency."
Napier equates the word resilient with the people of New Orleans, who were affected by the Hurricane Katrina disaster. Napier said the people there came together after the tragedy, pooled their resources and rebuilt their city and communities. He said the people of New Orleans were resilient.
The stand down started early in the morning with a run around Ford Island and a free pancake breakfast. Next, Soldiers and their families watched a suicide video, here, and could speak with several representatives from agencies that can assist during times of hardships and adversity.
After lunch, Soldiers and their families went down to Fort Shafter Flats for classes to learn more about financial readiness, relationships, legal concerns and life events.
"We want to make the training more hands-on and help our Soldiers deal with their personal issues," Napier explained. "I think when a Soldier listens to someone in a skit or someone that has gone through some of the same problems that they have, it shows them that they are not alone. If that one person can get through their problems, then maybe the Soldier can, too."
The Army has mandated that every unit conduct this training annually, but the 8th STB has decided it will conduct quarterly training.
"We don't want to wait until an incident happens; we want to be ahead of the power curve," Napier said. "The most important thing is that we want our Soldiers and their families to be resilient. Whatever adversity they are dealing with, we want them to be able to face it head-on and overcome. The Army, the 8th STB, and I want to remind them that they are not alone, and they always have an agency or someone out there to support them."