Suicide Prevention 'Our Problem,' Battaglia Says

17 Jan 2013 | Claudette Roulo, American Forces Press Service

Suicide prevention is not a new problem, the senior enlisted advisor to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said here yesterday, "but it's our problem."

Building resilience into the force is essential to preventing suicides, Marine Corps Sgt. Major Bryan B. Battaglia said during one of several enlisted calls. The military, he said, doesn't teach turning around and running away from problems.

Total Force Fitness, a holistic approach to mental and physical health intended to build resilience, will help service members and their families deal with challenges, the sergeant major said.

The concept, developed by Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the Joint Chiefs chairman, consists of eight wedges, each with a particular influence on mental and physical health.

"You hit adversity every day," Battaglia told the service members here. The military teaches service members to assess a problem and develop courses of action, the sergeant major said, adding that service members should take that same approach to their personal lives.

"Be in a preventive posture," he said.

Building resilience is both an art and a science, Battaglia said.

"This isn't all about medicine," he said. "It's not strictly, 'The answer is some sort of medication.'"

Part of the art of resilience hinges on leader engagement, he said. He called on enlisted leaders to help in preparing service members accustomed to a warfighting setting to serve in a garrison-focused environment.

Total Force Fitness plans will differ from person to person, he said, as each tailors it to meet their own needs to improve and stay resilient.

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