Enlisted Leaders Focus on Suicide Prevention
By Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Mar. 29, 2012 The most senior enlisted leaders from each branch of service and the combatant commands focused on the health of the force, and specifically on suicide prevention, during a conference here this week, the military’s top enlisted member said today.
Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Bryan Battaglia, senior enlisted advisor to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, discusses total force fitness following the senior enlisted panel during the Warrior Resilience Conference at the Renaissance Hotel in Washington, D.C., March 29, 2012.
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Bryan B. Battaglia, senior enlisted advisor to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said he and the other enlisted leaders collaborated on issues pertaining to the health, welfare and wellness of service members and their families.
Battaglia highlighted his “NOW” initiative, designed to reach younger service members.
“The audience that I really wanted to reach is the 18- to 24-year-olds,” he said. The suicide issue seems to be most prevalent with younger service members, he said, but “it’s also important to educate the leadership too, so the audience wasn’t restricted to simply the young [troops].”
The sergeant major broke down the initiative’s three-letter acronym.
“The ‘N’ meaning there is never a problem too big that one would have to resort to suicide as a course of action to solve a problem,” he said. “If it is a problem, bring the problem to us, and we can solve it together, if he or she can’t solve it alone.
“The ‘O’ is simply outreach – an outreach that is literally a fingertip away,” Battaglia continued. “Troops can outreach by pressing the button on a phone, knocking on someone’s door, or by texting a team leader, but help is readily available.”
Battaglia said the final letter, “W,” represents “we,” as in the one-team concept of all leaders, service members and their families.
“[It’s] just to remind them -- even though I think that all of our troops and families know we care, and I say we collectively, again -- it’s one team, and it’s a universal problem, so we’re going to find a universal solution for this,” he said.
During the conference, Battaglia said, he brought in a subject-matter expert to shed more light on suicide and further educate senior leadership. The military still has “a lot of work to do” in preventing suicides, he acknowledged.
“And we just have to burn the midnight oil to try to crack this code as to why folks are not coming to get help and using suicide as an option,” Battaglia said.
Battaglia said he believes the conference was “a great networking opportunity.”
“It afforded us the opportunity to build relationships between the services and the combatant commands,” he said. “It’s all about relationships.”