Home : Features : 2010 : Suicide Prevention : Senior Leader's Message

A Message from Command Chief Master Sgt. Denise Jelinski-Hall, Senior Enlisted Leader, National Guard Bureau

Every National Guard Soldier and Airman is a valued and important member of the team.

The National Guard is the "hometown team" embedded in communities throughout the United States, territories and the District of Columbia.

The loss of one member cuts to the core of our formations, families and the community in which we live.

Although difficult, it's understandable when we lose a servicemember to combat-related injuries, accidents or natural causes. What is not understandable is the loss of life to suicide.

I am asking all Soldiers and Airmen to look out for their fellow comrades-in-arms. Take a few moments and ask the tough questions, get to know your people, listen and watch for signs of distress.

The leading causes of suicide are broken relationships and financial burdens.

As leaders, when you hear about a broken or failed relationship or financial strains, you need to engage immediately. Your direct involvement could make the difference in a Soldier or Airman's life – the difference could be their life.

As a military organization, there are many resources available to help single or married Soldiers, Airmen and families. To name a few, each state has a director of psychological services, chaplain corps and a Military One Source coordinator; they are all ready and eager to assist. The state, brigade and wing Family Readiness personnel have great financial resources to assist with budgeting and financial matters.

All of these services are critically important, but the first responsibility to look out for Soldiers and Airmen lies with us – their leaders.

When it's all boiled down, it's very simple – we have but two jobs: accomplishing the mission and the welfare of our people.

In this age of text messaging, BlackBerries and e-mail, we must not forget that none of these technologies will ever replace the face-to-face, one-on-one contact with our Soldiers and Airmen.

The one question you ask or forget to ask could literally mean the life or death of one of our Guardmembers.

I know your qualities as leaders and your compassion for your Soldiers, Airmen and their families, and I know you will do whatever it takes to help them.

If you as a servicemember or as the spouse/significant other are struggling, please reach out to someone that can help. There is no shame in asking for help – everyone needs a little assistance once in a while.

The loss of one Soldier, Airman or family member is one too many. We need you – you are important to your family, the National Guard and to your community.

Taking care of our most valued resource is job one – stay strong.

May God bless you and the United States of America.

Command Chief Master Sergeant
Senior Enlisted Leader - National Guard Bureau