Suicide Prevention Month

–By COL Jim Rice, AW2 Director–

The Army is working hard to bring mental wellness to the forefront of Soldier and Family care and remove the stigma from mental health concerns. Suicide is a potentially preventable tragedy that profoundly impacts the Army Family. During the month of August, TRICARE launched two new behavioral health care services. The first is the TRICARE Assistance Program (TRIAP), which allows TRICARE beneficiaries to speak with a licensed counselor 24/7 from the privacy of their own home or any other location of choice that has a computer, internet, and webcam. Eligible beneficiaries are active duty servicemembers, those eligible for transition assistance management program (TAMP) for six months following demobilization, members with TRICARE Reserve Select, as well as spouses and other eligible Family members 18 years of age or older. The second is access to behavioral health services including psychotherapy and medications under TRICARE’s telemental health care benefit. The Vice Chief of the Secretary of the Army also established a suicide prevention task force, of which AW2 is a part. More information will be provided to you in September about this task force.

Please remember our suicide prevention training and the A.C.E. technique in your daily interaction with colleagues, Soldiers, and Families. Visit these Web sites and be prepared to ask the hard questions, your efforts can save lives:

http://chppm-www.apgea.army.mil/dhpw/Readiness/suicide.aspx

http://www.armyg1.army.mil/hR/suicide/default.asp

Editors Note: The VA Suicide Prevention Campaign has also launched an on-line chat service that enables Veterans, their Families and Friends to go online and anonymously chat with a trained VA counselor. For more information about this service, please visit http://www.mentalhealth.va.gov/suicide_prevention.

AW2 Anniversary

Prior to becoming the AW2 Director I spent most of my 30 years in the Army Medical Department on the tactical side. From company grade time in Desert Storm to OIF tours as both a battalion and brigade commander I tried to ensure Soldiers were treated and evacuated timely and effectively.

This month, as AW2 marks five years of service, I look at the needs of our wounded, injured, and ill in a different way.

I see not only the results of modern medicine on the battlefield, I see the way the Army has adapted to provide support for the entire Soldier and equally importantly for his or her Family. We have seen our Soldiers survive injuries that previously would have taken them from us. While our Soldiers may survive, they are left with severe and life-altering injuries and the Army is left with figuring out how to help Soldiers who have given so much find a new normal.

Army Wounded Warrior Program is one way the Army has made a commitment to our severely wounded, injured, and ill Soldiers and their Families. With this our five-year anniversary, I think about the more than 4,000 severely wounded Soldiers and their Families within our ranks. I think about the more than 100 Soldiers we have helped to stay in uniform and I think about those Soldiers and Families who we work with everyday to find a career or education path that suits them in their future goals.

We are always striving to do better. We rely on you, AW2 Soldiers and Families, to tell us what needs to change and what is working. One venue for doing that is the AW2 Symposium, this year being held in San Antonio, TX. If you want to contribute to making future changes in warrior care for wounded Soldiers and their Families, please consider applying to be a delegate this year at https://www.aw2.army.mil/Symposium/index.html. I look forward to meeting with those of you who do attend this year’s Symposium.

I’m honored to be a part of the AW2 Program. I have enjoyed working on a new side of warrior care. Our Soldiers, Families, and Staff constantly inspire me.

Thank you for your service.

Sincerely,
COL Jim Rice
Director, Army Wounded Warrior Program

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