Sunday, September 19, 2021

Letter to the Force - Suicide Awareness Month

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. 

Resources 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/get-help/chat.  You can also access Suicide Prevention Month resources on www.dspo.mil, and find ways to promote well-being and resilience at www.nationalguard.mil/wrf. Contact your Director of Psychological Health, Suicide Prevention Coordinator, chaplain, chain of command, or supervisor for more local resources and events.  There is always someone here to help you. 

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.

 

Sincerely,

 

Daniel R. Hokanson                                   
General, U.S. Army
Chief, National Guard Bureau

 

Tony L. Whitehead
SEA, U.S. Air Force
National Guard Bureau

 

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1. MAJOR REVISION OF AR 635-200, ACTIVE DUTY ENLISTED ADMINISTRATIVE SEPARATIONS, EFFECTIVE 1 OCT 21. https://armypubs.army. mil /Prod uctMa...