Simulation Augments Army Suicide Prevention Training

U.S. Army Master Sgt. Breyda Pereyra, left, the noncommissioned officer in charge of U.S. Army Central's G37 office, and U.S. Army Capt. Jordan Smith, the outgoing officer in charge of the U.S. Army Central Readiness Training Center, speak with a virtual soldier avatar in an Intelligence and Electronic Warfare Tactical Proficiency Trainer program designed to simulate a conversation with a soldier having suicidal thoughts, Camp Buehring, Kuwait, Sept. 12, 2018. (U.S. Army photo/Adam Parent)
U.S. Army Master Sgt. Breyda Pereyra, left, the noncommissioned officer in charge of U.S. Army Central's G37 office, and U.S. Army Capt. Jordan Smith, the outgoing officer in charge of the U.S. Army Central Readiness Training Center, speak with a virtual soldier avatar in an Intelligence and Electronic Warfare Tactical Proficiency Trainer program designed to simulate a conversation with a soldier having suicidal thoughts, Camp Buehring, Kuwait, Sept. 12, 2018. (U.S. Army photo/Adam Parent)

CAMP BUEHRING, Kuwait -- U.S. Army soldiers from the Army Central Readiness Training Center spent their afternoon learning about suicide prevention techniques with the Intelligence and Electronic Warfare Tactical Proficiency Trainer at Camp Buehring.

The training revolved around a virtual reality scenario in which the participants communicated with a virtual avatar of a soldier who is experiencing suicidal thoughts and would like to speak with his unit leadership about it.

"The training was awesome," said U.S. Army Chaplain (Capt.) Jerry E. Thompson, the post chaplain for Camp Buehring. "The soldier had everything from a potential DUI, marital problems, lost a battle buddy, had survivor's remorse, and financial problems. So we as first line leaders were able to walk him through the different programs that were available to him and help him see a reason to live."

The IEWTPT is a suite of programs which allow soldiers to speak with virtual avatars in a variety of scenarios, most of which are focused on gathering intelligence. This creates an opportunity for soldiers to train more often without having to set up time intensive role-playing scenarios with real actors.

September is Suicide Prevention Month, so the lessons that soldiers are able to learn from the IEWTPT are forefront in service members minds.

"Having this simulation and this virtual reality capability is a nice add-on to what already is out there," said U.S. Army Master Sgt. Breyda Pereyra, the noncommissioned officer in charge of U.S. Army Central's Readiness Training Center. "It's a huge benefit to be able to offer it because it complements everything else that already exists that the Army is using."

Every soldier in the U.S. Army is trained in a suicide prevention program called Ask, Care, Escort on an annual basis to ensure any soldier can help their battle buddies during their most difficult times. The suicide prevention program within the IEWTPT gives soldiers another tool to practice and prepare for the day when they may be called upon to help another soldier in need.

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Army Suicide Prevention