Va. National Guard encouraging “buddy checks” Sept. 30


Virginia National Guard Soldiers and Airmen are encouraged to check in on their battle buddies and wingmen Sept. 30, 2015, to make sure they doing well and help them find resources if they are experiencing hardship or in crisis

SANDSTON, Va. — The Virginia National Guard is encouraging its members to check in on their battle buddies and wingmen Sept. 30, 2015, to make sure they are doing well and help them find resources if they are experiencing hardship or in crisis. As part of the initiative, Soldiers and Airmen should call, text or make plans to get together to catch up on what’s going on each other’s lives. They can also show their support by posting on social media with the #VaGuardBuddyCheck hashtag.

Join the event on Facebook by visiting

“We all face demands in our personal and military lives, and we have to look out for each other to make sure we are handling those stresses,” said Maj. Gen. Timothy P. Williams, the Adjutant General of Virginia. “We have a host of resources available to anyone in need, but we have to make sure we identify anyone who needs them and get them pointed in the right direction. Leaders at every level must create a climate where our Soldiers and Airmen know it is okay to reach out and ask for help if they need it.”

A full ist of resources is available at the Virginia Army National Guard’s Resilience, Risk Reduction and Suicide Prevention Program, also known as R3SP, web page at

The Virginia National Guard has Family Assistance Centers located throughout the state that are considered one-stop assistance for those who need services and support. Through partnerships with agencies such as Veterans of Foreign Wars, The American Legion, the Red Cross and other local and national organizations and working closely with military personnel such as chaplains, commanders, JAG Officers and volunteers, the Family Assistance Center Specialists are able to provide the very best assistance possible.

Some of the areas in which a FAC staff can provide assistance includes but is not limited to; TRICARE, DEERS, ID Cards, financial and legal assistance, Community Outreach/referral and Crisis Intervention and referral.

For more information about Family Assistance Centers, visit or call the 24-hour Hotline at 1-800-542-4028.

If you feel like your buddy or wingman expresses feelings of suicide, call the Suicide Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255) military press 1 to get help.

The number one way to notice risk factors, warning signs, and changes in behavior associated with suicide is to know your buddy or wingman,” said Cheyenne Facchina, Virginia National Guard suicide prevention program manager . “They could be at risk because of relationship problems, financial issues or substance abuse, not only because of stresses related to combat duty or deployment.”

It is also important to take seriously any of the warnings signs and get help immediately, she said.

Suicide Prevention: Warning Signs & Risk Factors

Warning Signs:
When a Soldier or Airman presents with any combination of the following, the buddy or chain of command should be more vigilant. It is advised that help should be secured for the Soldier.

  • Talk of suicide or killing someone else
  • Giving away property or disregard for what happens to one’s property
  • Withdrawal from friends and activities
  • Problems with girlfriend (boyfriend) or spouse
  • Acting bizarre or unusual (based on your knowledge of the person)
  • Soldiers in trouble for misconduct (Art-15, UCMJ, etc.)
  • Soldiers experiencing financial problems
  • Soldiers who have lost their job at home (reservists)
  • Those soldiers leaving the service (retirements, ETSs, etc.)

When a Soldier or Airman presents with any one of these concerns, they should be seen immediately by a helping provider.

  • Talking or hinting about suicide
  • Formulating a plan to include acquiring the means to kill oneself
  • Having a desire to die
  • Obsession with death (music, poetry, artwork)
  • Themes of death in letters and notes
  • Finalizing personal affairs
  • Giving away personal possessions

Risk Factors:
Risk factors are those things that increase the probability that difficulties could result in serious adverse behavioral or physical health. The risk factors only raise the risk of an individual being suicidal it does not mean they are suicidal.

The risk factors often associated with suicidal behavior include:

  • Relationship problems (loss of girlfriend/boyfriend, divorce, etc.)
  • History of previous suicide attempts
  • Substance abuse
  • History of depression or other mental illness
  • Family history of suicide or violence
  • Work related problems
  • Transitions (retirement, PCS, discharge, etc.)
  • A serious medical problem
  • Significant loss (death of loved one, loss due to natural disasters, etc.)
  • Current/pending disciplinary or legal action
  • Setbacks (academic, career, or personal)
  • Severe, prolonged, and/or perceived unmanageable stress
  • A sense of powerlessness, helplessness, and/or hopelessness