NANGARHAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Grateful Afghan villagers are rescued from flash floods by Afghan National Army Soldiers July 28. The ANA Soldiers rescued over 200 villagers from flash flooding Read more
KHOST PROVINCE, Afghanistan – A young boy sits on a table at a convenience store while members of the 330th Military Police Company, Police Combined Action Team, buy juice and Read more
KHOST PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Afghan National Policemen and members of the 330th Military Police Company, Police Combined Action Team, search a goat herder’s house for illegal weapons and evidence of Read more
KUNAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Children from Kandigal village in eastern Afghanistan's Kunar province follow U.S. Army Pfc. Richard J. Sandoval of Fresno, Calif., radio operator for 3rd Platoon, Company B, Read more
KUNAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan - U.S. Army Pfc. Aaron R. Will of Tampa, Fla., a gunner with 2nd Platoon, Company C, 1st Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment, Task Force Bulldog, reloads his Read more
PAKTYA PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Soldiers of 1st Plt., 287th Engineer Co. pray before leaving on a route clearance mission in southeastern Afghanistan July 18. Since their arrival in theater in Read more
PAKTIKA PROVINCE, Afghanistan – In the last two-years, an alarming threat has become more and more prevalent through the ranks of the U.S. Army - suicide.
According to military reports, the number of U.S. Army Soldiers who committed suicide in 2009 was a record-breaking 245. The first half of 2010 has exceeded that pace with 145 suicides in only six-months.
Last month was the highest single month of suicides of the year, claiming the lives of 32 servicemembers. Fortunately, Task Force Iron Rakkasan has had none, thanks in part to great hands-on leadership and well-resourced training, said U.S. Army Capt. Erik Alfsen, chaplain for 3rd Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment.
Hoping to keep the trend going, Alfsen has been working with the battalion’s leaders to reinforce the skills necessary to spot soldiers in need.
One of the recent programs developed to help train Soldiers in suicide awareness and prevention is Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training.
“The two-day course shifted the focus of leaders from suicide prevention training and statistics to recognizing risk and learning to intervene,” said Alfsen. “I think the use of visual aids, videos, and role-playing greatly helped the Soldiers’ awareness and capabilities.”
About 25 Soldiers attended the course, with each platoon having at least one leader present. According to Alfsen, a Springfield, Mo. native, the goal was to help ensure leaders at all levels were informed and able to help their Soldiers.
Those who attended seemed to agree with Alfsen that the training was worthwhile. “This program will definitely help the Iron Rakkasans, and will possibly increase the number of lives saved,” said U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Jorge Vera, a native of Los Angeles, who is assigned to 3-187. “I think it’s a good extension of the programs offered by mental health experts, who have helped reduce the numbers of suicides in the Army.”
“By the conclusion of the training, Soldiers were instilled with confidence and equipped with the knowledge they need to make a difference in the life of an at-risk Soldier,” he said. “This event will have long lasting benefits for the Soldiers of this battalion.”
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