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Tackling military suicides. Plus your weekend reads

Welcome to GovLoop InsightsIssue of the Week with Chris Dorobek where each week, our goal is to find an issue — a person — an idea — then helped define the past 7-days and we work to find an issue that will also will have an impact on the days, weeks and months ahead. And, as always, we focus on six words: helping you do your job better.

A busy week here on GovLoop Insights’ DorobekINSIDER:

  • Your Transition Survival Guide: DorobekINSIDER Live: A special edition of the DorobekINSIDER. We went LIVE! The idea: get smart people together and share ideas because we believe that the real power of information comes when it is shared. In the hour show we talked with government experts who have lived and thrived through presidential transitions. Our panel of guests will told us what you need to know about this particular transition and what certain nominations could mean for certain agencies.
  • Managing Myths During the Transition: Sure transitions are hard, but something managing the gossip mill around transitions is even harder. Tom Fox from the Partnership for Public Service officers tips to deal with the water-cooler talk during the uncertain transition period.
  • Is the government TOO big to succeed? As the world has become dependent on IT, so has the federal government. Leveraged effectively, technical tools can engage the public, create cost savings, and improve outcomes. These benefits are obscured by regular reminders that federal IT is fundamentally flawed. It is too big to succeed,” said Zachary Bastian. Find out his 3 solutions.
  • OpenCounter: Code for America and Santa Cruz strike permitting gold: The City of Santa Cruz is the smallest community to ever partner with Code for America, but it had one of the largest problems to solve: how to make it easier to take an idea for a small business from conception to reality. From a concept to a permit. How did they do it?

Our issue of the Week: looks a military suicides.

Here’s a sad fact, last year more service members committed suicide than died on the battlefield. Despite extensive support and counseling programs, as many as 349 service members committed suicide last year, which would be the highest number since the Department of Defense began keeping detailed statistics in 2001.

The President and the Defense Secretary have called the suicides a national tragedy. So what can be done?

Brigadier General Tammy Smith is the director of the Army Reserve’s Human Capital Core Enterprise. I asked Brigadier General Smith why suicides are on the rise.

To help combat the rise in suicides the Army and Army Reserves have pushed some new programs starting at basic training.

Boosting Resiliency: “When we look at the solider as a total person one of the aspects that research shows is that individuals that have more resiliency are better equipped to deal with the struggles of war. So what the military is doing is applying that research to the solider life-cycle. That starts at boot camp. If we can teach life-skills from the beginning and improve their portfolio, we can build a more resilient force,” said Brigadier General Smith.

Suicide Stand-down: The training was held at Army posts around the world. The stand-down was meant to help soldiers, Army civilians and family members recognize signs of suicidal behavior and inform them about intervention strategies and how to refer individuals for care.

Fort Family: provides a single gateway to responsive Family Crisis Assistance, available 24/7, 365 days a year. It provides a unit and community based solution to connect people to people. By pinpointing Families-in-need and local community resources, the AR can quickly connect the Soldier Family and resources thus providing installation-commensurate services in the geographic location of the crisis. Fort Family has established a community based capacity by engaging our Nation’s “Sea of Goodwill” to support Soldiers and Families closest to where they live.

Top Down Support: “It is Jeffrey Talley’s (Chief of Army Reserve, Commanding General USARC) number one priority,” said Brigadier General Smith. Leaders in the Army and other branches of the military have recorded video messages urging soliders to seek out help. Here is one example:

Weekend Reads:

  • Highlighting Is a Waste of Time: The Best and Worst Learning Techniques. Time Magazine writes, in a world as fast-changing and full of information as our own, every one of us — from schoolchildren to college students to working adults — needs to know how to learn well. Yet evidence suggests that most of us don’t use the learning techniques that science has proved most effective. Worse, research finds that learning strategies we do commonly employ, like rereading and highlighting, are among the least effective.
  • You Probably Write a Novel’s Worth of Email Every Year. The Atlantic Writes: 41,638 words. That’s per the personal assistant app Cue, which integrates services like contacts, calendars, and especially email — and which recently released data based on a sampling of its users in 2012.

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