Fort Campbell emphasizes suicide prevention


Associated Press

Posted on May 6, 2013 at 6:03 AM

Updated Monday, May 6 at 6:03 AM

FORT CAMBPELL, Ky. (AP) — Officials at Fort Campbell are trying to bring more attention to suicide-prevention efforts at the post on the Kentucky-Tennessee line.

The Kentucky New Era ( reports that commanders for the 101st Sustainment Brigade, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) met recently to discuss efforts to reach out.

The post already has already incorporated resiliency programs to teach soldiers better ways to cope with stressful situations. Now, it has started implementing a program called Community Health Promotion Councils.

Jojo Huber, the health promotion officer with the Fort Campbell Community Health Promotion Council, says every unit will have a council to discuss how resiliency programs are working and how to incorporate new ideas.

"The Community Health Promotion Council is basically charged with integrating and synchronizing key Army programs that focus on resilience training, leader engagement with soldiers and families and improved unit readiness, and to establish a prevention system of care for our entire community," she said. "It also establishes a cultural change that encourages help-seeking behavior and reduces stigma."

Col. Charles Hamilton, commander of the 101st Sustainment Brigade, said Army leaders have not only embraced the councils, but now look at them as a way to stop soldier suicides.

"This is a campaign. Just like armies in the past, we take it very seriously, and we're in it to win it," he said. "We're not just doing it to mark time. We're here to win the campaign."

Command Sgt. Maj. Eugene Thomas, command sergeant major of the 101st Sustainment Brigade, said he thinks of resiliency as simply soldiers helping soldiers.

"If we could save one person from doing something that they otherwise wouldn't do, then it's worth it to us," he said. "This whole thing, you call it resiliency or whatever you want to call it? I call it taking care of soldiers. That's what non-commissioned officers get paid to do."

The Army doesn't have a way to measure how effective the resiliency programs are, but Huber said there are signs when a program is successful.

"Our health promotion program totally is about changing the culture, how we see ourselves, how we address the issues that are facing our soldiers and families," she said. "It's about cultural change."

Huber said she is seeing more and more soldiers seek help and she thinks that is because the stigma is disappearing.

"I think the cultural change is starting to happen. To what degree we don't know," she said. "How do we measure that? Only time will tell."


Information from: Kentucky New Era,