After reading the Oct. 2 article “4 recent deaths at Fort Hood may be suicides” it is clear: We as leaders are still checking the block on this issue. All the training in the world cannot stop this; there is only one way to aid in the prevention of this and it is squarely on the shoulders of the leadership: Stop checking the block!

If you really want a better chance of curbing this epidemic, then train all leaders from E-5 and above in better communication techniques. We as leaders need to understand our soldiers better to spot changes. This means really listening and understanding everything they say. It means talking to them every day, not just on three- and four-day weekends when the command remembers at 1500 hours prior to the start of that time off to send out the “Do your OAK TREE Counseling” e-mail. Oak Tree should be done 24/7.

When they come back from any time off, ask them how their time off was, what they did, where they went. Then the key is remembering it and talking about it again at a later date.

When they talk to you of things going on in their life, remember it and ask about it at a later date. It shows you care, they see that, it builds the trust required for them to come to you when they have a problem.

That bridge of trust needs to be built from day one and maintained throughout their time in the military. Only then will we be able to get a grip on the suicide epidemic.

Sgt. 1st Class Keith M. Piotrowski

Camp Liberty, Iraq

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