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A sign on Route 11 northbound welcomes people to the main entrance to Fort Drum. Watertown Daily Times

FORT DRUM — Last week, the Fort Drum community was hit hard by the news that three soldiers became victims of suicide within a 72-hour period.

Lt. Col. Josh Jacques, a public information officer with the 10th Mountain Division, said the investigations into their deaths are ongoing.

He confirmed that the three soldiers were assigned to Fort Drum, but said their deaths were not connected, saying it’s “highly unlikely they knew each other.”

The three soldiers were members of different units and ranks, he said.

Only one of the three was recently deployed to Afghanistan, but it’s not believed his service there played a role in his death.

Lt. Col Jacques identified the three soldiers as:

Private First Class Tyler S. Thomas, 21, of Cedar hill, Texas. He was an Army signal support system specialist. He was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division.

Staff Sgt. Angel G. Green, 24, of Barstow, Calif. He was an infantryman. He was assigned to 4th Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment (The Polar Bears), 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division.

He deployed with his unit to Afghanistan two times in support of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel and to Qatar one time. He most recently returned from Afghanistan on Sept. 6. Officials do not believe his deployment was a primary reason for his death,

Specialist Sika M. Tapueluelu, 26, of Tukwila, Wash. He was a cannon crew member. He was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 15th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division.

September is Army Suicide Awareness Month, with the theme “Connect to Protect: Support is Within Reach.”

Bill Van Orman, manager of Fort Drum’s Suicide Prevention Program, is focusing on that theme to get the message to soldiers who need help.

Mr. Van Orman said soldiers need to build on connections and social relationships and lean on those connections, according to an article written by Mike Strasser for Fort Drum garrison public affairs.

And talking to them can reveal what’s bothering them and where to turn to get that help, Mr. Van Orman said.

In support of Suicide Prevention Month, Mr. Van Orman began a video series on the Fort Drum Army Substance Abuse Program Facebook page.

Each video focuses on a different Army pillar of readiness — physical, emotional, social, spiritual and family — that serves as the foundation for overall wellness and resilience, according to Mr. Strasser’s article.

The social and family pillars can be affected by deployments or moving to new duty stations.

“We move constantly in the military, and that can strain relationships,” Mr. Van Orman said. “We can be separated from our families for a period of time, and while the relationship is still there, it’s harder to foster if I can’t communicate as I normally would.”

“People can also struggle spiritually, whether it’s in a religious sense or a sense of purpose,” he said.

There are many ways soldiers can seek help.

If you or someone you know is struggling, 24-hour help is available by calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or visiting www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org.

For more information about the Fort Drum Suicide Prevention Program, call 315-772-9018 or visit the Soldier and Family Readiness Center, Building 10250, 4th Armored Division Drive.

For more information about suicide prevention, visit www.armyresilience.army.mil.

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Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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