Frustrated by the lack of attention on the crisis military families face, an Army wife is organizing a suicide awareness symposium to help the spouses and children who are struggling on the home front.
“Are You Listening: Suicide Awareness for Spouses and Family Members” is planned for April 20 at the USO Warrior and Family Center in Fort Belvoir, Va., says Karen Francis, the military family advocate who organized the symposium. Plans for the program include the survivor of someone who committed suicide, representatives from Give An Hour, Not Alone, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, and other groups.
The symposium also includes stress management information, yoga and lunch. There is no charge. The symposium runs from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Francis was prompted to put together the symposium after the September 2012 Army-wide suicide stand down failed to address suicide risk among military families.
“They did not say one word about family members except, ‘Servicemembers should keep an eye on their spouse,’” Francis says. “They aren’t counting us, but we know spouses are committing suicide and teenagers are committing suicide.”
The April 20 workshop is geared specifically to families of servicemembers, DoD contractors, Guard and Reservists. Francis also hopes to reach caregivers of injured servicemembers.
“We’re there to provide as much information as possible so they know there’s a place to reach out besides Military OneSource,” Francis says. “If Behavioral Health can’t help you, there are many alternatives.”