TAG briefs Guardsmen about suicide awareness in preparation for the holidays
By A1C Emily Hulse, 151st ARW
/ Published December 05, 2010
SALT LAKE CITY -- National Guard Headquarters leaders gave a briefing in the North Hangar at the Utah Air National Guard Base December 4 in light of the approaching holiday season. The Adjutant General Maj. Gen. Brian L. Tarbet, as well as Col. Wayne E. Lee and Army Command Sgt. Maj. Bruce D. Summers spoke on difficulties everyone faces in life, and gave counsel to anyone who may be experiencing hard times.
Sergeant Major Summers began the brief with a short message about suicide and the effect on the lives of the surrounding friends and family.
"It is always difficult when we lose one of our own," he said. "It is even more difficult to lose one when you don't have to."
Sergeant Major Summers also spoke specifically to non-commissioned officers, explaining that they need to know what's going on in their Airmen's personal lives.
"NCOs need to have quality, caring leadership," he said. "They need to understand what is going on in younger Airmen and Soldier's education, military, and social lives."
Colonel Lee emphasized the importance of enjoying time spent during the holiday season.
"Take a step back and enjoy this time," he said. "Then hit the ground running in January 2011."
He also spoke about using the wingman system within units and offices and accessing the tools available to Guard members and their families.
"We need to pay attention and take care of each other," he said. "Also, if you need help, you need to ask. There are great tools out there available to assist us. It's also available to your family members if they need help too."
General Tarbet stressed the effects of suicide, not only within the state of Utah, but specifically within the National Guard.
"Suicide is so corrosive to those left behind," he said. "And the numbers in Utah are unacceptably high. This is the video game generation, but you don't get a reset button in real life."
He mentioned a time when he himself was enduring hard times in his own life. He spoke of a specialist who said, "We've got your back, sir."
General Tarbet then advised Guard members to step forward if they need help. "There is no stigma in the military if you need help," he said. "There will be no repercussions. It will not affect your records. It will not affect your security clearance. I can guarantee I've got your back."
General Tarbet said we need to be sensitive to our fellow Soldiers' and Airmen's feelings, and reach out and touch people.
"Look to your left, and look to your right," he said. "We leave no Soldier behind."