The esprit de corps and pride at Fort Bragg is unlike any other Army installation I have served at or been assigned to for duty as a service member. We know that our units and service members are some of the first to deploy and the last to come home from meeting our nation’s military readiness overseas. Everyday thousands of us train to hone our skills to ensure we can meet that call. Our goal is to equip our nation with the most well-trained, combat ready forces in the Army. Although service members are trained to face many challenges in the military, nothing can fully prepare a Soldier for losing a fellow member to suicide.
Our goal at Fort Bragg is to not lose one single Service Member, Family member or civilian to the tragedy that is suicide. Accomplishing this will take the conscious effort, personal involvement, availability, and approachability of every individual at Fort Bragg.
Each of our commanders has the personal responsibility and accountability for establishing an environment in which every individual – without hesitation - can approach their leaders with an expectation that there will be an eagerness to help solve problems without judgment or retribution while maintaining good order and discipline within our ranks.
Preventing suicide will require everyone to step up and be active if we are to change the status quo. There are a few things we can do to make a difference: Do not treat this sensitive subject lightly, show empathy for those who appear to be in crisis, and be proactive. We need to hold ourselves accountable and take a personal interest in improving the lives of others. This will require a hands-on approach, in which we are ready to ask the difficult questions to help identify at-risk individuals. This will aid us in providing immediate action and treatment, if required, in order to prevent losing an irreplaceable part of our team.
In the next few weeks, the Paraglide will be highlighting actions all of us can take to help reach out to those who need help. The services provided by the medical community are designed to help us detect signs individuals exhibit when in crisis, how to respond appropriately, as well as resources we can access if we are feeling hopeless and are in need of immediate assistance.
Suicide is a permanent ‘solution’ to a temporary problem. Every one of us has deep roots, and it must be emphasized to anyone at-risk that there are people who care about them. A lot of pain will be left behind if they act on a passing impulse, and those affected by this tragedy will be plagued with an overwhelming guilt and doubt as to what they missed or did wrong.
Do not hesitate to help someone who is in a downward spiral. Get involved – a mad friend is better than never being able to see them again. If you are the one feeling hopeless or experiencing suicidal ideation– please, do not hesitate to talk to someone. No one is in a one-man fighting fox hole – have the courage to ask for help! It is okay to not be okay, and there are people are waiting for you to reach out.
As many who have been deployed will say, we are each other’s “Battle Buddies,” and we must continue to have each other’s backs even after we come home. No man will be left behind. Watch out for one another, pay attention to unexpected changes in someone’s actions or personality and take care of each other. This is who we are and who we have to be, if not for ourselves, but for one another.
Make no mistake: Preventing suicide is a challenge that will require a serious intellectual, individual, organizational, and leadership commitment. As a Soldier and also as the garrison commander of Fort Bragg, I and everyone on the garrison staff are 100 percent “All-In” to meeting this challenge.
Should you require assistance, please use the contact info for our resources 907-5895.