During a sensing session with III Corps and Fort Hood commander Lt. Gen. Don Campbell Jr., Spc. Robert Kearney stood up and asked a question.
“I wanted to know why it was just senior enlisted and senior leaders talking (about seeking help),” Kearney said. “Why aren’t E-4s and below talking?”
The general was meeting with leaders and soldiers from the 4th Sustainment Brigade, 13th Sustainment Command on Sept. 24, following the brigade’s loss of three soldiers in less than a week. Campbell wanted to dialogue with soldiers and get their feedback about how to help.
When Kearney posed his question, Campbell asked him if he would talk about his story.
“I was depressed,” Kearney said.
The wheeled mechanic was struggling with a divorce and estranged from his children when he reported for a doctor’s appointment last summer.
“It was just a regular doctor’s appointment,” Kearney said.
On the questionnaire that all patients complete before each visit, Kearney came to the question that asked if the patient thought about hurting him or herself.
Kearney marked “yes.”
“I knew I needed help,” he said.
Immediately identified as high-risk by the doctor’s office, Kearney was informed that he needed to call a noncommissioned officer to come stay with him. He could not be alone.
Kearney called Sgt. 1st Class Shawn Patterson, his motor sergeant.
Patterson picked up Kearney and drove him to the emergency room at Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center. The two talked in the car.
“I had just gotten divorced and I hadn’t seen my kids since Christmas,” Kearney said. “I was supposed to see my kids. I already had leave, when my ex-wife pulled out.”
Patterson sat and listened.
“I just listened to him and stayed with him to make sure he was OK,” Patterson said.
After going to the emergency room, Kearney was checked out by a social worker and a doctor before he was released that night.
The next day, Kearney reported to Fort Hood’s Resilience and Restoration Center for help. A behavioral health doctor adjusted his medications and he was set-up to meet with a therapist.
Months later, Kearney is still here and wants to share his story.
“I’m doing better,” he said, noting that services on post and Patterson’s presence that day were invaluable.
“He helped me through a dark time,” Kearney said. “I needed help and was able to get it.
“I want everyone to know it’s OK to get help. If I’d killed myself, there would be five kids without a dad.”