Seven Steps Fort Bliss Took to Reduce Soldier Suicides

Maj. Gen. Dana Pittard, commander of Fort Bliss. Photo credit: army.mil

Maj. Gen. Dana Pittard, commander of Fort Bliss. Photo credit: army.mil

There is no single solution to reverse the rise in soldier suicides.

In fact when Army Maj. Gen. Dana J. H. Pittard took over as commander at Fort Bliss, he came armed with a comprehensive approach reports Donna Miles for American Forces Press Service on military.mil.

Confronted by a spate of suicides among redeploying air defenders when he arrived at Fort Bliss in July 2010, Pittard launched the “No Preventable Soldier Deaths” campaign. The goal, he explained, was to prevent not only suicides, but also high-risk behaviors that can lead to drug overdoses, motorcycle and vehicle accidents, and other preventable fatalities.

That comprehensive campaign includes more than 30 different initiatives but all are focused on reducing risky behavior and creating a culture where seeking help is encouraged. Some of the steps taken:

  1. Pittard began assigning accountability for preventable deaths, holding leaders accountable for their soldiers, and soldiers accountable for themselves and their battle buddies.
  2. All new arrivals to Fort Bliss get comprehensive screenings at the Wellness Fusion Center.
  3. Pittard made the Army’s Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training mandatory for all incoming soldiers.
  4. Fort Bliss requires that every unit down to company level have a certified master resilience trainer within its ranks. (Current Army policy requires one at the battalion level.)
  5. Pittard cut off Wi-Fi reception in the barracks so soldiers would congregate at designated hot spots and reintroduced the old concept of day rooms so soldiers would hang out together.
  6. Pittard began allowing members of the El Paso community just outside Fort Bliss’ gates to come on post simply by showing a driver’s license so soldiers were less isolated from the American people they serve.
  7. He added bike and walking paths and gathering places, and more than 10,000 trees planted to encourage soldiers to commune with nature and each other.

The payoff has been that Fort Bliss went 120 straight days without a preventable soldier death from September through January. This article originally appeared on defense.gov. For more information on suicide awareness and prevention, visit health.mil.

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One Response

  1. All way aimed to reduce or eliminate suicides is a rigths way.
    Chronic stress dirompt,also physically all will and skill and is the substantial cause of PTSD course, also caused by TBI, to suicides thougths and suicide. The better care is, as indicate, the conctact with others, the new reacquired possibility to dialogue each others, the possibility to see nature not as enemy, like on war. This require long times and also is possible warriors may fall on a new state of depression. But this interplay, dialogue, like a new born, first pass, will done the best results. Pharmacological cares are on this case ad abdiuvantus.
    Whissess of all the well possible to all warriors interessed, all veterans, all, serving us, have reported such situation. Be aware, all you, you are not alone claudio alpaca

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