Thank you for your tireless efforts, day in and day out, ensuring quality care for our ill and injured and their loved ones. It is your commitment to excellence that allows us to continue calling ourselves the Nation’s Medical Center.
Day after day, I witness you enthusiastically walking through the doors prepared to take on the fast-paced, around the clock hours of healthcare. For some, you’ve found yourself here after years of deployments around the globe, and for others, it is your maiden voyage.
Serving as you do amounts to spending a great deal of time apart from your beloved family and friends. It amazes me how you carry on your routine, without skipping a beat. This is the true mark of dedication, but if one doesn’t take care of him or herself, it can take on a different meaning.
Make no mistake our mission here at Walter Reed Bethesda is truly worthy, but it is also demanding. It can take a toll on all of us, so it is important we recognize the warning signs of fatigue, discomfort or just plain being overwhelmed. It is imperative that we look out for one another. What you may think is intrusive just might save a life.
Often many are left wringing their hands with thoughts of ‘perhaps if I had just said something when my gut was telling me this person was at their breaking point.’ Please don’t let that be you.
I know it is often difficult to detect when a person is suicidal, but there are warning signs we can look out for, such as withdrawal, hopelessness, an unrelenting low mood, sleep problems and anxiety. There may also be an increased use of alcohol and/or drugs, and the individual may be acting recklessly, taking unnecessary risks, even threatening, or they may act out in unexpected rage or anger. If you see a change, ask about that change. Let that person know you care and that you noticed something is wrong.
If you believe an individual to be in emotional crises, please, act immediately. Intervene before a potential problem, and report these behaviors to your chain of command. Our providers have the necessary tools for assessing and managing suicide risk, and we also have effective processes in place to communicate between leaders, balancing privacy and safety to best help our staff heal and reintegrate.
To continue enhancing the support we provide, a Suicide Prevention Training course will be held at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Aug. 10 as part of a series of Suicide Prevention Training courses. They are in accordance with existing tri-service suicide prevention programs, designed to address and minimize risk factors while strengthening protective factors. There are also a number of resources and programs available on base, offered by Pastoral Care and the Fleet and Family Support Center. Classes are also offered by the Integrated Health Services that provide stress reduction techniques. For more information about additional resources, call Military OneSource at 800-342-9647.
Suicide prevention begins with us. Early recognition and treatment are key. Look out for one another. Please remember if your peer is going through a difficult time, don’t hesitate to step in and help them get the support they need. Also, remember to take your well-deserved time off and don’t be afraid to ask for help or for a break. What you do matters, but most importantly you Matter!!!
Rear Adm. Alton L. Stocks
Walter Reed National
Military Medical Center