Skip to comments.U.S. Peacekeeper Dies in Kosovo
Posted on 03/05/2002 6:04:21 AM PST by vooch
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Being intelligent, I would expect no less from a cynic. Your loss.
The military doesn't consider your wife disappearing with the kids back in the states an emergency.
I saw (not witnessed, maybe heard is better since I heard the gunshot) this happen when I was on the Barney, DDG-6. We were in Izmir Turkey and an E-4 did this on DDG-5 (I forget the name of the ship).
I don't have contacts in the Balkans, so I'll take you at your word for that part of the discussion.
OTOH, we now have over 4 months of combat experience in Central Asia. I do have several friends involved in that action. And to say our soldiers can't hack it in a real war...as your quote above indicates...even if you did make it a conditional statement...is very disrespectful.
So, badmouth the Balkan mess as much as you'd like, but lay off American service men and women.
When I was in the Army it wasn't that uncommon.
It's enough of a problem that formal suicide prevention training is now a requirement in all noncommissioned officer (NCO) education system and officer/NCO professional development classes, and annual update/refresher classes are held before the Christmas/New Years season offering warning signs of particularly depressed individuals as the happy-happy holidays roll around, particularly those who've recently undergone family seperations.
The USAF numbers were running around 60 per year, though how many are really suicides and how many are racial or drug-related incidents commanders are trying to keep the lid on is an interesting question, and the possibility of murders by host nation civilians, as with the KFOR/IFOR occupation troops, can also be related to either fallings-out between criminal partners or local social and political passions and hatreds pretty well beyond the understanding of most young Americans.
The *following article* may also have information of interest to you about the seriousness and widespread nature of the problem.
Army to field new suicide prevention plan
WASHINGTON (Army News Service Feb. 26, 2001) -- The Army has developed a new suicide prevention campaign plan that officials said should be released to the field this spring.
"Soldiers, Leaders and Communities Saving Lives" is the plan's title. It focuses on training people about how to recognize early signs of suicidal behavior and how to intervene.
The plan was formed after the Army had a 26 percent increase in active-duty suicides between 1997 and 1999, said Lt. Col. Jerry Swanner, the Army suicide prevention program manager at the Pentagon. He said the problem seemed to culminate in January last year when the Army had six confirmed suicides in the first five days of the year.
"Obviously, this caused great concern within the Army leadership," Swanner said, adding that it prompted Army Chief of Staff Gen. Eric K. Shinseki "to direct a complete review of the Army's suicide prevention program."
The Department of the Army Suicide Prevention Working Group -- which consists of policy officers, chaplains, and psychiatrists across the Army staff -- launched into an exhaustive study, Swanner said. The group examined numerous reports and studies including the U.S. Surgeon General's "Call to Action to Prevent Suicide," published in 1999.
The group also met with leading civilian psychiatrists in the field of suicide prevention, including Dr. David Shaffer, who was commissioned by the assistant secretary of Defense for Health Affairs in 1996 to analyze all DoD Suicide Prevention programs.
"We used to believe that suicides were from stress, and if we reduced stress that would reduce the risks of suicides," said Swanner. However, he said recent studies indicate the majority of suicides occur due to some form of psychiatric disorder.
Stress can trigger the desire to commit suicide, but stress alone is not sufficient enough for someone to commit suicide, said Col. David Orman, the psychiatry consultant to The Surgeon General of the Army.
The new Army suicide prevention model focuses on four major areas: developing life-coping skills, encouraging help-seeking behavior, raising vigilance on suicide awareness, and integrating and synchronizing unit and community programs.
Although draft versions of the new campaign plan have already been sent to the Army's major commands, Swanner said he expects the official release sometime within the next six weeks.
He said the working group is waiting for a final DoD directive concerning "psychological autopsies" and the requirements for a standardized suicide surveillance format.
The new campaign plan encourages leaders to reinforce positive life-coping skills. One such program, which Swanner said originated in the 25th Infantry Division, is "Building Strong and Ready Families." It focuses on developing interpersonal communication skills between married couples. The Army has recently funded a pilot program for a selected number of brigades.
About 75 percent of all soldiers who committed suicide last year were experiencing "significant relationship problems" in their personal life, said Lt. Col. Glen Bloomstrom, a chaplain in the Family Ministry Office for the Army's Chief of Chaplains.
Some recruits enter the Army predisposed to mental illness, Swanner said. He said the Army Surgeon's General Office and TRADOC are now determining the feasibility of pre-screening recruits for dysfunctional behavior during the early stages of initial entry training. He said those determined unfit for duty would ideally be separated before they reach their first unit of assignment.
On the other hand, Swanner said the Army should not discriminate against those who seek and receive mental health treatment. He would like to change the stigma associated with mental health care.
"We must tear down these barriers that prevent our soldiers from receiving the professional mental help that some so desperately need and deserve," Swanner said.
Swanner said dramatic change could only occur if there's a shift in the "gung-ho, drive-on" mentality that implies seeking help is a "sign of weakness."
When soldiers realize they need help, it's a sign of individual strength and maturity, Swanner said, not of weakness.
In the new program, the Army is turning to Living Works Education, a public service organization based in Calgary, Canada, that has developed a workshop titled "Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training" or ASIST. The focus of the training is to provide anyone who might come in contact with a person at risk for suicide with the confidence and tools to take immediate life-saving actions, Swanner said, until the individual can be seen by a mental health care professional.
The goal is to eventually have one ASIST-trained soldier within every battalion to assist the commander in determining the actual risk of self-injurious behavior, Swanner said.
Chaplains now attend ASIST workshops as part of their formal training.
But Swanner said all counselors that come in contact with soldiers in need would benefit from the workshop. Trial defense lawyers, MPs and even unit leaders preparing for an extended deployment should take ASIST training, Swanner said. To accomplish this goal, the campaign plan calls for two ASIST trainers at every installation.
Currently there are only three ASIST-qualified trainers, Swanner said, but that number will soon change as TRADOC is sponsoring a trainers course for 30 of their chaplains during the first week of March.
ASIST should be considered as "triage" for suicidal risk, Swanner said.
"Chaplains have been receiving training on suicide prevention for a long time now, but ASIST will give everyone that receives the training a common language," said Lt. Col. Gregory Black, staff chaplain for the U.S. Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventive Medicine. "If a commander or counselor has to refer a soldier to Mental Health, they can give a proper risk assessment."
To standardize suicide prevention training, USACHPPM and the American Association of Suicidology have published "Suicide Prevention, A Resource Manual for the U.S. Army." The manual contains three lesson plans: one for individuals, one for formal gatekeepers, and one for medical professionals. The manual is available on the USACHMMP web site at http://chppm-www.apgea.army.mil/dhpw/default/htm.
Throughout the creation of the campaign plan, one theme was emphasized over and over again by the senior Army leadership, Swanner said. That is, suicide prevention is a leader's responsibility. Therefore, he said the plan was prepared to assist installation commanders in the refinement of their own suicide prevention policies and programs that are outlined in AR 600-63 and DA Pam 600-24.
"The bottom line is to get involved and take action," Swanner said. "After all, you may be the very last person to have a chance to help."
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