Friday, March 27, 2009

Suicide Prevention--Best Army Training Film I have Ever Seen

Every soldier here had to take a three-hour class on suicide prevention. Sad subject, but as the class progressed I could not help thinking this is the best Army video I have ever seen. For those who have not seen military instructional videos, imagine your least favorite safety video and then imagine the script and final production is reviewed by an 18-layer bureaucracy.

But this video was different. The subject clearly is so serious that whoever had responsibility for it, decided to go with Best Practices on making a video rather than taking a vague, edited message in four-syllable, Latin-derived words and trying to shoot a video around it.

This video was interactive. We saw a scenario, we talked about what the soldier should do next then watched where that course of action lead. One scenario could lead to a bad end, another to saving the soldier's life. We could see both the good and the bad play out.

But the real reason this video work is that everyone knew somewhere in the back of their mind the plot of this video. Whoever wrote the script was a soldier or knows our culture cold because the plot line of the script was following what happens to a soldier who is the victim of Jody.

Who is Jody? From the 1st day of basic training soldiers, airmen and marines sing about a mythical guy named Jody who was your best friend back home. As we march, we sing about how Jody is:
--sleeping with our girlfriend/spouse
--driving our car
--emptying our bank account
--living in our house
You get the idea.

In the video we see a good soldier who is going on combat patrols in Iraq turn progressively worse as he gets a dear John letter, finds out his girlfriend is pregnant with Jody's child, hears from home Jody is driving his car and living in his house, and Jody has emptied his bank account.

In the video we see the soldier deal with these things alone and how it could lead to suicide. Then we see what happens when he gets help. Then just when the Jody's victim is straightening his life out, his best buddy is killed on patrol. The soldier has to get control of his life without the guy who pulled him through the last crisis.

It has a happy ending, assuming you choose the right path.

If you want to know more about Jody, you can look him up on Wikipedia, or better yet, watch the movie Jarhead. As you read this, some formation of soldiers somewhere is marching down a road singing:
"Ain't no use in goin' home, Jody's got your girl and gone . . ."

I could not find a song about Jody on You Tube, but here's a marching song so you get the idea of the sound. Jarhead is still the best source for seeing how Jody fits in soldier's lives.