FORT BUCHANAN, Puerto Rico –
Senior leaders of the 1st Mission Support Command gathered for a one-day Suicide Prevention workshop on February 8.
“This course is designed to give you tools for hope,” said Brig. Gen. Dustin A. Shultz, commander of the 1st Mission Support Command.
The course is tailored to give leadership a general break down of their Suicide Prevention plan and more importantly, the tools necessary to identify problems. Command teams are presented with resources that can be gathered from a myriad of organizations to help soldiers and their families deal with their individual crisis.
In October 2018, all United States Army Reserve units stationed on the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico will become the new VIPR Command. Forming a new command requires a lot of logistics and the command is dedicated to the well-being of their soldiers. Shultz identified suicide prevention as a top priority for the command.
“As a brigade commander, I experienced the effects of suicide. It is something I don’t want my commanders to go through if it can be prevented,” said Shultz to the command teams present.
There were 71 active duty suicides, 20 reserves suicides and 31 National Guard suicides in the first quarter of 2017, according to the latest quarterly suicide report available from the Defense Suicide Prevention Office.
“We can't prevent all suicides, but we need to know we are doing everything we can,” said Jose A. Gonzalez, the Suicide Prevention Program manager for the 1st Mission Support Command.
Mr. Gonzalez compiled binders with reference materials, CDs with electronic forms and memorandum templates and a bound summary of the entire course in an effort to give the commands as much critical material in a simple format.
We are a family and you are the linchpins of that family and like a family, Soldier care feeds into family care, which feeds into community care. You are the leaders of change. If something needs to be changed, bring it up and we will work on it. I can work it from a strategic angle and take it up to General Luckey to get it addressed, said Shultz.
“There were so many resources,” said 1st Lt. Bianca Viruet, commander of the 430th Quartermaster Company. “I feel better prepared and more confident as the commander to implement a successful suicide prevention program.”
Everyone plays a role in suicide prevention.