Suicide prevention and military professionalism addressed at 60th Annual Governor’s Day

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  • By Airman 1st Class Emily Hulse
  • 151 ARW/PA
Airmen and Soldiers of the Utah National Guard lined the football field at Westlake High School in Saratoga Springs, Utah, Sept. 14 for the 60th Annual Governor's Day celebration.

After a pass-in-review of the UTNG units, Governor Gary R. Herbert addressed Guardmembers and expressed his appreciation for the sacrifices made by members.

"My mission here today is to tell you thanks," said Herbert. "We have about 7,400 of you that we have to thank who are actively engaged in National Guard service here. We appreciate the fact that you represent Utah and this country so well. It's an awesome responsibility, but you are carrying on that responsibility with professionalism with a commitment, with dedication and valor that makes us all proud."

Maj. Gen. Jeff Burton said he is proud of Guardmembers across the state for the job they do in serving the country and the state.

"Anyone who gets up and puts on this uniform, I am very proud of them," said Burton. "I have a deep love for them, because they are soldiers and airmen and they put on this uniform, and they don't have to."

Herbert and Burton said they share a goal to reduce the rate of postdeployment suicides in the coming years as Guardmembers continue to return to their families after long deployments in high-stress locations.

"I've asked General Burton to make suicide prevention a top priority," said Herbert. "The key is communication. We need to talk to one another, not be afraid to ask the hard questions and do the right thing and report any unsafe or unstable situations through the chain of command. We work together--that's the Utah way--and we need to help and give support to everyone."

Burton also added a focus on being professionals as Guardmembers and being more involved in local communities.

"This year we are focusing on the profession of arms, both Army and Air," said Burton. "This is a professional organization; we need to behave like professionals. We need to up the standards. We are professionals in the community, we add value to the community."

Governor's Day gives the governor of Utah the opportunity to review and address troops, while giving UTNG leadership an opportunity to present troops at their best.

"It's a humbling and awe-inspiring sight to see you assemble on this field today," said Herbert. "I am proud to be your commander in chief."