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"Shoulder to Shoulder" Suicide Prevention Stand Down

"... we should be standing “Shoulder to Shoulder” with our soldiers and their families on Thursday!" 

A day to reflect, a day to plan for the future, a day to remember those lost, a day to consider that we are not immortal or invulnerable… I remember during my days as an airman taking “safety down days” after a particularly tragic series of flight accidents to do just that. To highlight behavior health during Suicide Prevention Month the US Army is taking a “Stand Down” tomorrow focusing on “… good health, teammate involvement, risk reduction and resilience training.”

See Photo Credit Below
The Blogger Roundtable had the opportunity to speak to Sergeant Major of the Army, Raymond F. Chandler III about the stand down and discuss prevention measures taken to reduce this tragic loss of life. “Shoulder to Shoulder, We Stand Up for Life.” is the theme of the day’s events and according to Chandler, his own behavioral health issues (involving two years of weekly sessions) show that soldiers can succeed and overcome the stigma of asking for help! In fact, it takes strength to ask and it makes a better soldier.


The personal story he shared of PTSD and TBI during the Roundtable was authentic, very genuine and demonstrated a caring leader who said one suicide is too many. It was a tough audience that asked tough questions of the Sergeant Major. How do we maintain momentum after Shoulder to Shoulder, how to remove stigma of behavioral health issues, why aren’t family members included (they are!), what about the extended family of single soldiers, are there enough resources and what will the day be like?

He described resources available (Many of the resources can be found at Suicide Prevention Resources on MilitaryAvenue.com.) and that suicide prevention was all about relationship building. He went further to say that junior leaders were now more familiar with their critical role in prevention and that he saw “traction” growing in the force.

It was a give and take and at times emotional discussion (you can listen to an audio transcript at ArmyLive) and Chandler said that Army leadership was involved in the programs to increase visibility, social media are being used to open resources and he described it as a full day of training at the installation level. The goals were to include reducing the stigma and building trust. Reserve forces will do training over their duty periods as well. As a nation that asks so much of our serving military members we should be standing “Shoulder to Shoulder” with our soldiers and their families on Thursday!
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Col K is a retired USAF pilot that served for 30 plus years and had extensive experience with all the services through joint missions; he lived on or next to Army, Navy and Air Force installations; attended extensive joint Air Force/Army training and relocated 18 times. Continuing his support of the military community through MilitaryAvenue.com, he enjoys writing to provide resources for our heroes and their families.  His military family created MilitaryAvenue.com as a resource for others like themselves.  You can read more of his blogs at Our Letters to You: A Military Family Blog/Col K.



Photo Credit:  http://www.army.mil/article/87401/Suicide_prevention_stand_down_set_for_Sep

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