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Air Force chief orders stand down to combat rising number of suicides
Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein has ordered all units to take a day before Sept. 15 to focus on preventing airmen from taking their own lives.
"Suicide is an adversary that is killing more of our airmen than any enemy on the planet," Goldfein write in a July 31 memo to commanders, which Task & Purpose obtained. "You and I have sworn to 'defend against all enemies, foreign and domestic.' Suicide attacks sometimes with and without warning. Make this tactical pause matter. Make it yours and make it personal."
Last year, Goldfein asked the entire Air Force to think about what prompts airmen to go from hopeful trainees at Basic Military Training to deciding that killing themselves is the only answer.
At the time, 50 airmen had committed suicide, Goldfein wrote.
"I would never have predicted that a year later we would stand today at 78 suicides," Goldfein write. If we do nothing, we will end 2019 with upwards of 150+. Hopeful to hopeless ... what is going on? It is our job to find out."
Goldfein wrote that a person whose high school friend had committed suicide recently him that young people choose to take their lives when they see themselves as a burden to their friends, family, and the Air Force.
That's why commanders, supervisors and superintendents need to ask themselves whether they see their airmen as a blessing or a burden, and they need to ask how their airmen see themselves, he wrote.
Air Force Magazine Reporter Brian Everstine first tweeted about the Air Force's "Resiliency Tactical Pause" on Thursday. The stand down is meant to be the start of an ongoing dialogue about how airmen are doing, said Air Force spokesman Robert Leese.
"The collected feedback will drive changes to programs if necessary, as well as inform more effective ways to empower leaders at the lowest level," Leese said.
As part of the stand down, Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force Kaleth Wright made a video in which he says the service cannot allow the number of airmen committing suicide to keep rising.
"This is your day, so make it your own," Wright said in the video. "We won't tell you what to do. We won't tell you how to do it. You know best what your teams need."
"You know, someone right now in your organization is struggling," he continued. "Someone in your organization is suffering from Post Traumatic Stress or depression. Someone in your organization is feeling hopeless and they may be thinking that suicide is the answer. Given them better options. Let's lead them to a better answer."
If you're thinking about suicide, are worried about a friend or loved one, or would like emotional support, the Lifeline network is available 24/7 across the United States. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (800-273-8255) to reach a trained counselor. Use that same number and press "1" to reach the Veterans Crisis Line.
Once again, the United States and the Taliban are apparently close to striking a peace deal. Such a peace agreement has been rumored to be in the works longer than the latest "Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure" sequel. (The difference is Keanu Reeves has fewer f**ks to give than U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad.)
Both sides appeared to be close to reaching an agreement in September until the Taliban took credit for an attack that killed Army Sgt. 1st Class Elis A. Barreto Ortiz, of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division. That prompted President Donald Trump to angrily cancel a planned summit with the Taliban that had been scheduled to take place at Camp David, Maryland, on Sept. 8.
Now Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen has told a Pakistani newspaper that he is "optimistic" that the Taliban could reach an agreement with U.S. negotiators by the end of January.
75 years ago, Audie Murphy earned his Medal of Honor with nothing but a burning tank destroyer's .50 cal and insane bravery
Editor's note: a version of this post first appeared in 2018
On January 26, 1945, the most decorated U.S. service member of World War II earned his legacy in a fiery fashion.
Florida senators are pushing for Purple Hearts for service members wounded in the NAS Pensacola shooting
Florida's two senators are pushing the Defense Department to award Purple Hearts to the U.S. service members wounded in the December shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola.
The Navy Department is in the middle of a new force-structure review, which could change the number and types of ships the sea services say they'll need to fight future conflicts. But instead of trying to project what they will need three decades out, which has been the case in past assessments, acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly said the services will take a shorter view.
"I don't know what the threat's going to be 30 years from now, but if we're building a force structure for 30 years from now, I would suggest we're probably not building the right one," he said Friday at a National Defense Industrial Association event.
The Navy completed its last force-structure assessment in 2016. That 30-year plan called for a 355-ship fleet.
When Oscar Jesus Temores showed up to work at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story each day, his colleagues in base security knew they were in for a treat.
Temores was a master-at-arms who loved his job and cracking corny jokes.
"He just he just had that personality that you can go up to him and talk to him about anything. It was goofy and weird, and he always had jokes," said Petty Officer 3rd Class Derek Lopez, a fellow base patrolman. "Sometimes he'd make you cry from laughter and other times you'd just want to cringe because of how dumb his joke was. But that's what made him more approachable and easy to be around."
That ability to make others laugh and put people at ease is just one of the ways Temores is remembered by his colleagues. It has been seven weeks since the 23-year-old married father of one was killed when a civilian intruder crashed his pickup truck into Temores' vehicle at Fort Story.