The Eastern Air Defense Sector recently held two events aimed at reducing suicide risk among Airmen.
A Sentinel March and a Sentinel Watch, organized by the New York Air National Guard’s 224th Air Defense Group’s Suicide Prevention Team, were held on Sept. 10-11 at the EADS facility. The 224th ADG provides the forces to conduct EADS federal air defense mission.
Part of the unit’s #GotMySix National Suicide Prevention Month efforts, the events demonstrated how unit members are always there for each other, regardless of the time of day.
“I’ve got your six isn’t just a phrase for tactical operators, police or firefighters. It’s for everyone,” said Staff Sgt. Alexandra Tracy, the Suicide Prevention Team member who was the driving force behind the two events. “No one has to do this alone.”
The Sentinel March started at 7 a.m. on Sept. 10 at EADS’ 9/11 Memorial. Dedicated last year, the memorial is built around EADS’ Survivor Tree, a sapling taken from the original Survivor Tree that was found alive in the World Trade Center rubble in October 2001.
More than 20 EADS members participated in the three-mile walk, which looped through the Griffiss Business and Technology Park. The march included pauses for reflection and concluded at EADS’ 9/11 memorial.
At the end of the march, the 25-hour Sentinel Watch began. It involved two Airmen at a time, who sat on benches at the 9/11 memorial in one-hour shifts from 9 a.m. on Saturday to 10:28 a.m. on Sunday (10:28 a.m. is when the World Trade Center North Tower collapsed).
The Sentinel Watch focused on improving Airman connectivity, which plays a critical role in reducing suicide risk.
“Suicide is a culmination of multiple factors and complex interactions. Yet it is preventable,” said Karen Silcott, the 224th ADG Director of Psychological Health.
Several individual, interpersonal, community and societal factors, ranging from feeling connected at work to effective problem-solving skills, can reduce suicide risk, Silcott noted. And suicide prevention is something every Airman can be part of.
“Everyone can help prevent suicide,” she emphasized.
“Reducing the suicide risk for Airmen is a critical priority at every unit,” said Col. Joseph F. Roos, 224th ADG Commander. “The Sentinel March and Sentinel Watch are unique ways to build connectivity and reduce risk and I applaud our Suicide Prevention Team for their innovative efforts.”
The 224th ADG is composed of the 224th Air Defense Squadron and the 224th Support Squadron, located in Rome, and Detachment 1 and Detachment 2 that serve in the Washington, D.C. area. The 224th ADG provides the forces to conduct the Eastern Air Defense Sector’s (EADS) mission. Part of the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), the Sector is responsible for the air defense of the eastern U.S.
For more information about the New York Air National Guard, visit www.dmna.ny.gov.
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