To the Soldiers, Airmen, and Families of the National Guard
Far too many of us have lost someone we cared about to suicide. Just as it can be hard to talk about our struggles and ask for help, it can be hard to start the conversation that asks, “Hey, are you okay?” That’s why September is Suicide Prevention Month—a time to raise awareness about the complex issue of suicide, and to help those who may be struggling.
We are all part of the National Guard family. We are connected in countless ways at every level, from our individual relationships to our organizational structure. We rely on each other in training and on the battlefield, and those connections can help save lives. We “Connect to Protect” our fellow Soldiers and Airmen, and carry on these efforts year-round.
Small steps can make a difference. It can be as simple as checking in on a battle buddy or wingman, or safely storing firearms and medication to reduce access to lethal means of self-harm. It can be having honest conversations about mental health, and making it as big a priority as physical fitness. It can be reaching out to your leadership, your chaplain, your healthcare provider, or your family—or all of the above! —if you’re struggling. It doesn’t matter which steps you take first—it only matters that you take them.
to help our National Guard family are always within reach. If you or a
loved one are in crisis, reach out to Military One Source
at 800-342-9647. You can also call the Veterans/Military Crisis Line
for confidential support available 24/7 by calling 800-273-8255 (press
1), text 838255, or chat online at www.veteranscrisisline.net/
Together, we can keep each other safe and strong. We’re here for each other so we can keep our promise to be Always Ready, Always There.
Daniel R. Hokanson
General, U.S. Army
Chief, National Guard Bureau
Tony L. Whitehead
SEA, U.S. Air Force
National Guard Bureau