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Top DoD SAPR, Suicide Prevention Leaders Visit 4 CTCS

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Amy F. Picard
  • 4th Combat Control Squadron

The 4th Combat Camera Squadron proudly welcomed top Department of Defense leaders—Dr. Liz Clark, director of the Defense Suicide Prevention Office, and Andrea Bryant, acting deputy director of the DoD Sexual Assault and Prevention Response Office, as part of the unit’s annual suicide prevention and SAPR training Nov. 5.

Their participation underscored a dedicated focus on crucial issues, reinforcing the ongoing commitment to ensure a safe and supportive environment for Airmen of the 4th CTCS at Joint Base Charleston, South Carolina.

"Since I've been a member of the squadron, Master Sgt. Amy Picard, the squadron’s resiliency lead, has brought us unique and life-changing annual SAPR training that has proved to be a resounding success, fostering a culture of awareness, respect, and accountability amongst our squadron and community," said Master Sgt. Corban Lundborg, 4th CTCS. 

Addressing the unit with heartfelt sincerity, Clark, Bryant and Picard, facilitated open discussions on concerns related to suicide, sexual harassment and assault and domestic violence. The two-hour session showcased an unwavering dedication to nurturing a culture of respect and accountability. The responses highlighted recent strides in implementing preventive measures and fortifying reporting systems, and underscored DoD efforts to bolster victim support resources.

"Year-after-year, Picard's SAPR training has fostered unit engagement and comprehension, resulting in tangible improvements and the unit’s improvement in fostering a safe and respectful environment," added Lundborg.

A pivotal discussion centered around Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin's establishment of the Suicide Prevention and Response Independent Review Committee in March 2022. This committee rigorously evaluated aspects of military suicide, including policies, by visiting military installations to derive recommendations pertaining to suicide prevention, intervention and postvention. This led to a two-phase plan sanctioned by Secretary Austin. The initial phase involves tailored recommendations for service members' well-being and mental health care, followed by the establishment of a Suicide Prevention Implementation Working Group for further planning and assessment. These efforts align with the DoD's commitment to bolster service member wellness, aligned with previous actions from the SPRIRC.

Clark emphasized the DoD’s urgency of these issues, urging squadron members to advocate for cultural change. Bryant reaffirmed the Department’s dedication to supporting victims on their journey to healing and justice. Both leaders addressed mental health stigma and encouraged open conversations and utilization of a myriad of available resources, stressing the pivotal roles of strong leadership, peer support programs, and community engagement in creating a safety net for all service members.

“The impactful training on these sensitive topics not only fostered a deeper understanding of the complexities surrounding the suicide and sexual assault, but also provided a safe and inclusive space for us to have an open dialogue,” said 1st Lt. Symantha King, 4th CTCS.  “The unprecedented leadership perspective and approach equipped our team with valuable skills to navigate such issues with sensitivity and awareness, making us better Airmen, capable of supporting one-another and ultimately bringing us closer together.” 

The squadron expressed gratitude for engaging with these senior DoD leaders. The event ignited meaningful dialogue, inspiring attendees to persist in fostering positive change and sustaining a supportive community.

“These events are a reminder that collaborative efforts at all levels of the organization pave the way for a future where the well-being of service members takes precedence in an inclusive and supportive military environment,” said Lt. Col. Michael Odle, commander, 4th CTCS.