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“One suicide is too many,” said Maj. Gen. Max Haston, Tennessee’s Adjutant General. “To have even one of our soldiers or airmen take their own lives is a tragedy that affects the entire Guard family.”
Suicide within the military is a major concern with senior military leaders throughout the nation.
“We simply have to do whatever is necessary to prevent our troops from reaching the point that the only alternative is to take their own lives,” Haston continued.
“But suicide is not only affecting our military, it is affecting society as a whole. The Guard mirrors the community,” said Haston. “In today’s society, suicide has become a long term solution for a short term problem that is too readily used to alleviate a situation. We have to combat the causes, as well as build resiliency throughout the force.”
Intensive training on suicide prevention has been ongoing since 2008. During the month of October, every unit in the Tennessee National Guard will stand down to conduct suicide prevention training. This stand down gives the opportunity to again heighten the awareness about the various resources to help the airmen, soldiers, civilians and families of the Tennessee Guard and to build resiliency throughout the force.
Each Guard member and their families have access to a Smartphone application where a touch of the screen connects them to a master degree or higher psychological clinician who is available within seconds of placing the call. Also, each airman and soldier of the Tennessee National Guard has selected a wingman or battle buddy to reach out to for help however it’s needed.
Last year Tennessee partnered with The Jason Foundation, and E4 Health to implement “Guard Your Buddy”. Guard Your Buddy is joint effort to give the men, women and families of the Tennessee National Guard constant access to critical life resources, on-demand counseling, and on-call suicide prevention. The Guard Your Buddy project is designed to enhance the excellent resources already in place for the Airmen and Soldiers of Tennessee.
“It is imperative that we foster an environment in which our Soldiers and Airmen feel comfortable in seeking the health assistance they need,” said Haston. “We must erase the stigma that seeking help shows weakness or dependency. Every Warrior and their family must know and not hesitate to use the resources and assets available to them.”