Staff Sgt. Mario Orelus recently had an opportunity that most people don’t get: Standing on the field at Arrowhead Stadium while being cheered by thousands of football fans. Orelus was one of several military members recognized for their service to country and their brothers-in-arms during the Kansas City Chiefs’ Tribute to the Troops game on Oct. 22.
“Staff Sgt. Orelus was chosen for his extraordinary efforts to fight and prevent suicidal thoughts and depression in our force,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Steven Harmon, Kansas National Guard senior enlisted leader. “He is a role model for our Soldiers on how to address behavioral health issues head-on in our tough work environment.”
During his 12-year Guard career, Orelus has served as a platoon sergeant for the 731st Transportation Company and currently serves in that position for Company G, 106th Brigade Support Battalion. As a key leader and trainer for the KSARNG Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training program, Orelus makes Soldier care a priority.
Orelus said leaders need to allow Soldiers downtime to process their feelings and thoughts and have meaningful conversations with those around them.
“Help Soldiers understand the importance of great relationships with friends at home and peers so they can have someone to talk to when facing hard times,” said Orelus, “especially during deployments.”
Orelus said the experience at the Chiefs game is one he will always remember.
“It is always good to represent the Army every chance I get, but this one was special to me, my family, my community, and of course the Kansas National Guard,” said Orelus. “I will always remember the car service they provided that picked me up at home and then brought me back after the game, the security guard who wanted to salute me at the security check point, the all-inclusive locker room experience, and the standing ovation from the fans of both teams.
“I know there are many Soldiers who would like to experience what I just experienced at the Chiefs game. My hope is the leadership will continue to provide this kind of platform to service members or recognize them at least at squad, platoon, and unit level.”