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New clinics bring health care to families
Active-duty family members who live near some Army installations soon will have an additional option for health care, without traffic, waiting time, e...
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Suicide prevention: We all share responsibility
It’s great to see that Fort Leonard Wood has recently welcomed a Suicide Prevention Program manager. Ernest LaMertha, a retired colonel and chaplain,...
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New Law Allows Military Spouses to File for Unemployment
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo— A new law passed by the legislature and signed by the Governor went into effect yesterday, allowing the spouse of an active member...
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Behavioral Health
Suicide Prevention in the Military

Military personnel are highly reluctant to ask for help when they are depressed because they do not want to be seen as weak. But untreated depression is the number one cause for suicide, so those who are depressed and do not seek help are at risk for suicide. So what can be done?

Clearly, all personnel need to receive suicide prevention training - and that is happening, but beyond that, personnel need to get to know each other so they will be more likely to spot someone who is depressed or suicidal and thus make sure that the person receives help. Again, please remember that untreated depression is the number one cause for suicide.

Air Force Captain Yvonne Levardi, who lost a friend from college to suicide, concisely and accurately summed up the importantance of getting to know fellow personnel when she said the following:

"We can go to seminars and read brochures forever, but the bottom line is we won't know if someone is considering suicide unless we truly get to know that person.

"For peers, if you have new [personnel] come into your office, befriend them and introduce them around so they can make friends. Remember we're part of the [military] and need to take care of each other, especially at a first duty station. We all know it's a bit scary; you're unsure of yourself and your job skills, and you don't know anyone. Help that person like you were helped, or like you would want to be helped.

"If you are a supervisor, get to know your people and apply leadership by walking around. Do any of your subordinates have financial or marital problems? Is your single troop lonely? Do you see changes in someone's work patterns, actions or personality? Knowing your folks can help you see their potential dark times and head them off with activities, someone to talk to or professional help -- the chaplains, life skills specialists, family support center staff, first sergeant or other support services. Your people -- your team -- are your responsibility.

"For your personal friends, be there. Make time to strengthen those relationships, because some of them might not have the same resources or strength of will as you. If that is the case, know them well enough that you can see the warning signs and be strong enough to ask if they are thinking about hurting themselves -- and tell someone else if they are.

"The best suicide-prevention program in the world won't work unless we know our people and our friends. Let's work to be there for our [military] family."

Well said, Captain Levardi.

Captain Levardi not only lost a friend to suicide, but another friend confided in her that she was suicidal. The friend told Captain Levardi not to tell anyone. Wisely, Captain Levardi did tell others because she knew that her friend needed help. And although her friend was mad at first, she later thanked her. Suicide can never be a secret. Never. Please click below for an important article on suicide and secrets:

Suicide Can Never be a Secret

Being in the military can be very stressful, and thus all military personnel are at a high risk for depression. Know the symptoms of depression so you can spot them in yourself and others. Please read the following article to learn about the symptoms of depression:

Depression and Suicide

And all military personnel should know the warning signs for suicide. Please read the following article to learn about suicide warning signs:

Suicide Warning Signs

And any military personnel that want to supplement their current suicide prevention program with the FREE Suicide.org suicide prevention program, please do so. The program is free, and you can access it by clicking below:

Free Suicide Prevention Program

Suicide.org also offers a wealth of information that will allow you to educate yourself about suicide, so please go through as much of the site as possible.

If you have no knowledge about suicide and depression, you will not be able to help anyone. Please educate yourself, and please help educate others.

If you do not believe that your military suicide prevention program is as comprehensive as it should be, then please talk with your supervisor and raise your concerns. And remember that any of the pages from Suicide.org can be used in any suicide prevention program that you implement as long as you follow the directions at the bottom of the pages for reprints. (All the pages of Suicide.org have information for free reprints.)

So after you become knowledgeable about depression and suicide, please reach out for help when you need it. Many people will encourage others to reach out for help, but will not get help for themselves. Please do not be stubborn. Remember that being in the military is highly stressful and that you are thus at a high risk for depression.

If you do become depressed, please make appointments with a doctor and a therapist so you may be evaluated. Sometimes depression is caused by a physical problem, such as a thyroid problem, so a thorough examination by a medical doctor is imperative.

And please see a therapist. Depression needs to be treated. Period. It is an illness, and just like ALL illnesses, it needs treatment. Do not think that you can treat depression by yourself -- that is like trying to treat a broken leg by yourself. And if you need antidepressants, you should take them, because sometimes that is what is required for a brain chemical imbalance to be corrected.

So take care of yourself first. Make sure that you get help when you need it, and never, ever try to treat depression by yourself.

And if you are ever suicidal, you have an EMERGENCY that requires immediate attention. Call an emergency number, call a friend, or go to a local hospital.

And make sure that you get to know the people who you are serving with. Do more than say hello. Open up to others, and they will open up to you. Ask your military friends how they are doing and let them know that they can come to you if they ever have a problem or are feeling down. Always make yourself available to others.

Do not let any person be an island. Include others in conversations and activities. Reach out. And when someone does have a serious problem or becomes depressed, make sure that he or she gets help.

And if a military friend becomes suicidal, please use the following article as a guide for how to help the person:

How to Help a Suicidal Person

And remember to ALWAYS take suicidal comments seriously. Always.

And also remember that if you are serving honorably in the military, you are a hero.

Thank you for serving.

Take care of yourself.

And take care of others in the military family.

Easter Seals

Easter Seals Disability ServicesReturning home from military service after experiencing combat and adjusting to life -- especially life with an injury or a disability -- can be a complex, bewildering and extended process. Even more so for wounded service members and veterans and their families, navigating the multitude of public and private support systems can be an overwhelming challenge. Families often find themselves struggling to find appropriate and effective supports within their very own communities.

The American Widow Project

The American Widow ProjectThe American Widow Project is a non-profit organization dedicated to the new generation of those who have lost the heroes of yesterday, today and tomorrow, with an emphasis on healing through sharing stories, tears and laughter………Military Widow to Military Widow.

Helping Military Families: "A Handbook for Family & Friends of Service Members Before, During and After Deployment"

More than 1.6 million men and women have served in Afghanistan and Iraq since 2001. Almost half of these heroes are married, and almost half have children - most of whom are five years and younger. Our service members make great sacrifices overseas, but so do the friends, families and loved ones they leave behind.

A new one-of-a-kind resource handbook and video is being made available to servicemembers’ families and friends, courtesy of an independent film production company, Vulcan Productions, owned by philanthropist Paul G. Allen. The handbook and video aim to help families and friends prepare for the emotional challenges encountered before, during and after deployment

Together in partnership with the representatives from the U.S. military, leading researchers and clinicians and veteran service organizations from around the country, Paul G. Allen's Vulcan Productions is honored to release a new multimedia resource to serve these military families: "A Handbook for Family & Friends of Service Members Before, During and After Deployment". The handbook is slated for release soon sign-up for notification of release at: http://thisemotionallife.mv.treehousei.com/Surveys/39/9F261268A509A18F/Thanks.aspx


Disclaimer: Reference and mentioning herein to any specific business, private organization, manufacturer, appearance of external links on this site, or otherwise, does not constitute or imply its official endorsement, recommendation, or favoring by the United States Government, Department of Defense, United States Army or United States Army Family and MWR Command. The views and opinions of expressed herein do not necessarily state or reflect those of the United States Government, United States Army, Department of Defense or United States Army Family and MWR Command, and shall not be used for endorsement purposes.