Fort Bragg works on suicide prevention

(Gilbert Baez)
September 20, 2012 3:15:11 PM PDT
Soldiers are returning from overseas combat missions in record numbers. From the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, troops are coming home to the hugs and kisses of loved ones.

But it's not always a happy ending. In some cases, what soldiers left behind on the battlefield is haunting them in their living rooms, and they're killing themselves.

Suicides have become a major problem in the military. The Army is on pace to have 200 this year. There have been nine confirmed suicides at Fort Bragg and five other deaths are under review.

Master Sergeant Eric Brooks knows all about it. He said he thought about killing himself in 2004 after two tours of duty in Iraq.

He recalled some of the thoughts that troubled him.

"The sleep that I have lost as been based on ... I know this is changing me. I know I'm not going to be the same person when I get home. Will my wife recognize me? Will she still love who I am now that I have become who I am," he explained.

Brooks sought and got help. Now, he's helping others before they take their lives.

The U.S. Army says it's focused on training and education to reinforce suicide prevention. The entire Army will observe a suicide stand down Thursday, Sept. 27 to work on prevention efforts.

At a round table discussion with the media Thursday, Fort Bragg commanders said they're committed to the health and safety of their troops.

"When I grew up, if you broke your VCR, you took it to the store and got it fixed. Today, we have a lot of folks who grew up believing if you break your VCR you put it in the trash can. If you break your cell phone you toss it out and get a new one. ...We want to change that mindset that if you feel like you're broken that there's no other choice than just to discard yourself," said 16th Military Police Commander Col. Chad McRee.

The army has put a number of things in place during the past 18 months to make suicide prevention more than just a program - now it's a mission.

The resources for soldiers thinking about hurting themselves have improved.

Learn more at: http://www.armyg1.army.mil/hr/suicide/default.asp

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