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NEWS | Sept. 21, 2017

Guardsmen ruck for awareness

By Pfc. Nasir Stoner 133rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

The Kentucky National Guard held a 10k Ruck For Life in support of suicide prevention on Boone National Guard Center in Frankfort, Ky., Sept. 20.

Suicide over the years has had a massive effect on communities, households, units, companies and battalions. The Kentucky National Guard has been taking a lot of steps to make sure suicide doesn’t affect more people in the future.

Mark Slaughter, the State Suicide Prevention Manager organized and oversaw the 10k ruck. His goals are to help prevent and decrease the number of suicides within the service as much as possible.

The number of suicides amongst service members has decreased in the last couple of years but is still high at 20 people,” he said. “The Kentucky National Guard provides programs to help prevent suicide on a daily basis.

“The idea behind this is to promote resources and remove the stigma of asking for help,” Slaughter said when asked about the intent of the programs and ruck march. “A lot of the suicides are people who have been able to stay hidden. As soldiers they don’t want to ask for help.”

The Guard provides a variety of programs and outlets to try to prevent suicides. The Guard provides annual Ask, Care and Assist training, chaplains, phone services and even text messaging programs to give soldiers a variety of outlets to reach out if they need help and support.

Capt. Logan Weiler, a staff member with the 103rd Brigade Support Battalion, participated in the ruck march for personal reasons. He explained a soldier in his old unit committed suicide last year.

“Spc. Caleb Compton of the 2123rd Transportation Company in Richmond, Ky. died last year at about this time of a self-inflicted gun wound,” Weiler said. “It made me realize that suicide can affect anybody.”

The Kentucky National Guard holds this event each year in September in honor of Suicide Awareness Month. The Soldiers of the Guard want to show their support for the people that have been affected by suicide or suicidal thoughts and let people know that if you need it, you should always ask for help.

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