On Monday May 23rd, Operator Seven received the following message on Facebook Messenger. This is her account of the incident. Operators One and Six assisted.
“Is there a counselor I can talk to I feel like I have . Nothing to live for every thing keep getting taken. IL kick me out the military cause all this moving” [spelling errors included]
I immediately tried calling the Soldier. No answer. I sent 3 text messages back. No answer. I called again with the same results- no answer. I then texted Operators One and Six. I advised them of the situation: Possible suicidal Soldier in GA. We’re all in different states. Four Soldiers. Four states. One in distress. We had to get them help. I didn’t know if they were alive, sleeping, passed out or not.
I had four phone numbers for my Soldier and only one worked. It went to voice mail & I left a message. There were several texts & phone calls between me and the other Second Class Citizen Operators I reached out to. I knew they were reaching out to their contacts and the information was vital. I contacted the NG unit in IL, where the Soldier was transferring out of to get a last known address and any other possible phone numbers. The Soldier moved to GA where he moved for civilian employment, family, and child reasons. I got an address and two phone numbers, One of which I already had. I sent the info to Operators One and Six, and contacted the local police. The police department called back a few minutes later to inform me the address was 2 mi outside their jurisdiction & I needed to contact the county sheriff’s department. I was given the number & asked to be patched through.
“I’m sorry I can’t do that. You’ll have to call them yourself.”
“You realized I’m calling about a possible suicidal Soldier?”
“Yes I understand that, but you’ll have to call county. I can’t patch you through”
Well, have a nice day Lady.
“Is there a counselor I can talk to I feel like I have . Nothing to live for every thing keep getting taken. IL kick me out the military cause all this moving”
I called the county sheriff’s department and advised them of the situation. More phone calls and text messages trying to get information out. I couldn’t get the info out fast enough. Another call this time to the unit commander. The commander informed me that there really wasn’t much he could do, the Soldier is being chaptered out for being AWOL. They w supposed to go to a unit in GA but never signed in.
“I was going to drop the packet in January, but I decided to give him another chance. I’ve give you a second chance but you’re not getting a third. He’s done.” This unit commander not once displayed any amount of concern. The only thing he displayed and voiced was disdain and contempt.
Operator One called shortly after I got off the phone with the commander. He could not believe what had been said between me that Soldier’s commander. I could tell Operator One was highly irritated and simply couldn’t believe the command I was serving under. I was about to have ringside seats to my commander being enlightened and I was kind of hoping to watch the show, but that was going to have to wait. We had a Soldier to get a hold of.
I got a call from a county officer: “The Soldier moved out, there’s no forwarding address, but here’s a possible phone number”.
No idea who it belongs to, but the deputy called and left a message for the Soldier to call the department and me. I tried the number 3 times and left a message all three times.
After the calls were made I received a call from the unit wanting to initiate a Serious Incident Report. Some 3 ½ hours after being notified of a possible suicidal Soldier, after a call to the commander and one call to Operator One. I couldn’t help but wonder if he got a hold of the unit or the commander. It turns out he had, and he had dressed down that commander for failing to care for a Soldier, an Article 92 violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. He’s a very resourceful individual to say the least.
Some four and a half hours after initial message from that Soldier was received, dozens of phone calls made, six phone numbers, two police departments, and one address later, I finally heard from the Soldier. He had received my messages & had been sleeping. He was sorry that he had caused “such a problem; “I didn’t mean to cause you any problems, Sergeant!”
I said “You haven’t caused me any problems at all. I’m here. Talk to me. I’m listening. Tell me what’s going on.”
He was alive, and that was the important thing. He reached out. I was lucky to have two other Second Class Citizen Operators in my corner that I could reach out to, and they used their contacts to help this Soldier. They didn’t know him. They have never met or served with this Soldier. All they knew was that a Soldier was in trouble and they did everything they could to help. And that made all the difference.
I would, I will do it all over again for any Soldier, Sailor, Airman, Marine, Coast Guardsman. We’re all on the same side. We’re all on the same team and we’re all here to help.