Saturday, November 17, 2012

Whidbey Holds Suicide Prevention Coordinator's Workshop

 By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (AW/EXW) Emmanuel Rios, Navy Public Affairs Support Element West, Det. Whidbey Island

OAK HARBOR, Wash. (NNS) -- Naval Air Station Whidbey Island's (NASWI) Suicide Prevention Coordinators (SPC) attended a workshop Nov. 16.

The workshop consisted of four speakers who covered resources available to SPCs from Military OneSource, Navy Hospital Oak Harbor, and Fleet and Family Support Center.

"According to Office of the Chief of Naval Operations Instruction (OPNAVINST) 1720.4A, every command is required to have a suicide prevention coordinator (SPC)," said Cmdr. J. Michael Hakanson, NASWI's command chaplain. "Part of their job is to have a suicide response plan in case an incident occurs.

"We want to provide them with suicide prevention training here so these collateral duty SPCs can take their resources and implement them into their response plan," he said.

David W. Thomason, Fleet and Family Support Center's master trainer, was on hand to reiterate the life skills courses available for service members.

"We have classes or courses available that people never even thought of," said Thomas. "From 'Who not to Marry,' to 'Nagging.' There is a huge scope of things under Life Skills, and they are all available for free."

Thomason added that the courses available from Fleet and Family Support are a way to prevent suicide, by never allowing it to get to that point.

"When we're taught about suicide prevention we always talk about intervention and prevention once the individual has already made the decision to do it," said Thomason. "I want to push suicide prevention way back to the point where when somebody thinks about it, and it is not even a viable option, they know their options. We teach the basic everyday life skills, so that when a tragedy happens, people can weather those fairly well having solid tools everywhere else."

Chief Aviation Structural Mechanic (AW) Jeremy W. Carlson, Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 129 assistant SPC, said the extent of resources available were useful to him.

"I was familiar vaguely with the topics," said Carlson. "But I see they cover just about everything you could possibly need. I definitely plan on taking this back to my Sailors and be more proactive with it."

Carlson added that although suicide awareness training is held constantly, he believes most people still lack the knowledge to help.

"We are always told it is an all hands effort, it is near and dear to the heart of most Sailors," said Carlson. "All Sailors have to do is be proactive, and learn what resources they have. This highlights their opportunities."

Thomason added that he believes there is not a single person who could not benefit from one of the stress managing courses.

"If we're better at handling everyday things, we are going to be better prepared when the big stuff hits," said Thomason.

For more information on suicide prevention, and the resources available visit:,,

Aviator Jackets

Beginning in the early 1980s, Aviator Jackets passed into pop culture in such movies as To Live and Die in LA and Top Gun.  In the former, one of the bad guys throughout the movie is seen to wear the military style flight jacket (a nylon version of the MA-1) while wheeling an Ithaca shotgun.  And, in Top Gun, Tom Cruise helps to popularize another model of an aviator jacket (variation of the G1 leather flight jacket).

While still worn by military servicemembers, the jackets had a very important role in early military aviation.  Beginning in World War I, as most aircraft had open cockpits, warm clothing was essential even at the relatively low altitudes the aircraft flew.  Legend has it that English pilots adopted a long leather coat and thus the life of the aviator jacket began.

Between World War One and Two, the leather flight jacket with the sheepskin lining was developed and adopted.  Although World War II saw very few open cockpit aircraft (compared to the numbers of enclosed), the altitude that these un-insulated aircraft would reach made the interiors very cold.  Heavy bombing would probably not been possible without insulated clothing like the flight jacket.

So, the flight jacket passes, from essential tool of war to a fashionable, yet warm and durable item of clothing.  I have mine.