by Command Sgt. Maj. John Kurak
Senior mission commander, 4th Infantry Division and Fort Carson
Fort Carson leadership is committed to the health, safety and well-being of its Soldiers, civilians and families. Therefore, Fort Carson has joined the Army and the nation in declaring September as Suicide Prevention Month in order to display our commitment to suicide prevention and awareness. Every member of the Army Family, both military and civilian, is integral to mission success and resultantly, we cannot afford to lose one single person to suicide.
As Soldiers operating in a time of war, we are all aware that we might lose a comrade in battle, or we ourselves might be asked to make the ultimate sacrifice. We do what is necessary to prepare for that outcome and, as a result, we are mentally equipped to lose our friends in combat, but we don’t expect to suffer the same losses in garrison. However, this is an unfortunate reality that many of us have been forced to face. As hard as it is to lose a Soldier or friend in combat, in some ways it is even harder to lose a Soldier to suicide.
We can readily identify and defend against the enemy when we’re fighting downrange, but suicidal thoughts present an intangible enemy. Too often we assume that the fight for Soldiers’ lives is over once we step off the battlefield. But as we all know, the reintegration process and the day-to-day demands of military service can be extremely psychologically exhausting. However, as members of the Fort Carson community, we hold the key to stopping this tragic loss of life. Each of us has the responsibility to reach out and assist our fellow Soldier, friend or Family member.
The Soldiers and Families of Fort Carson have remained vigilant in the fight against suicide, and I commend you for this. In the past year, the suicide rate has decreased by 25 percent, a direct result of our community’s actions, but this is still not enough. I ask you to remain vigilant of those around you, such as friends, families and co-workers. You are the first line of defense against suicide. Do not be afraid to alert your chain of command if you think someone is going through an especially tough time. Fort Carson has a number of counseling and medical resources available, including the chaplaincy, Army Substance Abuse Program, TRICARE providers, the behavioral health clinic and a 24/7 hotline.
If you have ever lost a loved one to suicide, you know what a painful tragedy it is. As Soldiers in the U.S. Army, we need to remain constant in looking out for one another and committed to strengthening our resiliency. Together we can put a stop to suicide.
— Steadfast and Loyal, Army Strong.