Members of the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation conducted the fourth round of extremism discussions; its ideologies that encourage discrimination, hate, and harassment against others; as well as suicide.

By Milton Mariani Rodriguez March 29, 2021 

FORT BENNING, GA – Members of WHINSEC converged on Friday virtually and in-person to continue with the conversations about extremism and its effects on an organization.

Today’s event centered on Suicide Prevention.

MAJ Vicente G. Alcivar, WHINSEC Chaplain, led to conversation amongst WHINSEC members on ways to be on the lookout for one another. Several members brought forward their personal experiences with fellow unit friends. Some talked about their tribulations in dealing with such an issue.

Colombian National Police MAJ Wilson J. Forero Casas, WHINSEC guest instructor, talked about programs established in Colombia, due to increased suicide rates within the ranks of the force.

Likewise, Panamanian National Police COL Cenen Castillo, WHINSEC Deputy Commander- Police Affairs, talked about evolving measures in the Panamanian security forces to combat suicide actively.

Peruvian Army COL Juan Villanueva Rojas, WHINSEC Deputy Commander for Military Affairs, commented as well.

“In Peru, we have professionals in mental health at the unit level. They have programs in place to keep an eye on the health of the troops,” he commented.

“When I return to Peru, I will implement this type of training. We all have a responsibility for each other and to our organization’s environment and well-being,” Villanueva added.

A series of meetings were conducted in response to the Secretary of Defense, Hon. Lloyd Austin’s order directed unit commanders and supervisors s to conduct a leadership “stand down” within 60 days to address extremism and extremist ideology issues in our ranks.

During a video address to the Department of Defense staff, Austin stated, “There is not a single doubt in my mind that you take your oath seriously to the Constitution. That you serve this country with honor, dignity, and character and that you believe in and uphold our core values every day. We understand the sacrifices you and your families are making to defend this nation. We know a stand down like this can seem like another task to undertake, another burden. The truth of the matter we need your help. I am talking, of course, about extremism and extremist ideology. Views and conduct that run counter to everything we believe, which can actually tear at the fabric of who we are as an institution. We have to be better than that. It is not just for ourselves or the sort of work environment we want to cultivate for each other, but also for the country and the very idea the United States represents to the world. I want you to revisit the oath you took when you joined the Military, reenlisted, or were promoted.

Read Those Words Again.

Consider what they really mean. Think about the promise you made to yourselves, to your teammates, and to your fellow citizens. We cannot afford actions and behavior that are in odds with our values and that undermine good order and discipline. That harm or harass and otherwise violate the oath that we share and the bonds of trust upon we all rely.”