6 Suicides at Fort Meade in Last Year
Officials working to improve programs to help troubled soldiers
by Allison Bourg
Maryland Gazette, Sept. 12, 2012
Six soldiers stationed at Fort George G. Meade committed suicide in the last year, spurring plans for a center to help struggling military personnel.
“It’s not that we have an epidemic — we don’t,” Garrison Commander Col. Edward C. Rothstein said Tuesday. But the numbers are alarming and “absolutely unacceptable,” he said.
Rothstein mentioned the suicides during a presentation to the County Council on the 11th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
Rothstein, who took over as garrison commander in July 2011, named mental health as one of his top priorities. That includes beefing up programs the Army already has in place and opening a center for troubled soldiers.
“This project is the evolution of discussions with Fort Meade installation leadership on how our membership and community could support our military and their families in and around the post,” said Deon Viergutz, president of the Fort Meade Alliance, a group that works to improve business and community ties with Fort Meade.
It was not immediately clear if the number of suicides at Fort Meade is increasing. But the effort comes as Army suicides as a whole appear to be on the rise.
Read more about Resiliency efforts at Fort Meade
The military newspaper Stars and Stripes reported this summer that 38 soldiers were believed to have committed suicide in July, the highest monthly number since the Army began keeping records of suicide in 2009.
Chad T. Jones, a spokesman for Fort Meade, said the Army already has plenty of resources available at the post, including a hospital, recreational activities and fitness programs.
One program, the Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training workshop, teaches participants to connect, understand and assist people who may be suicide risks. The next two-day workshop is scheduled for Sept. 27 and 28.
“But (the programs) scattered throughout the post,” Jones said. “You have to find them one at a time, two at a time.”
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Filed under: Resources Tagged: | Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training workshop, Cmdr. Marivic Fields, Col. Edward Rothstein, Comprehensive Soldier Fitness, Fort Meade Alliance, Fort Meade Maryland, Mental Health, Military Resiliency Training, Stigma, Suicide prevention