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Safe for now

suicide_prev_logoSeptember 29, 2014

By Capt. Sean Murphy, commander, Company B, 257th Brigade Support Battalion, Wisconsin Army National Guard

Editors note: As we prepare to conclude Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, Capt. Sean Murphy, commander of B Company, 257th Brigade Support Battalion, shared his thoughts after attending an Applied Suicide Intervention Skills (ASIST) program workshop over the summer at Camp American Legion in Lake Tomahawk, Wisconsin.

“We may have a suicide situation.”

These are the words no leader wants to hear, but it happens far too often.

The Wisconsin National Guard, through its Service Member Support Division, has been working hard to make sure units and leaders are prepared through its Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST) workshops.

The workshops have taken place in locations throughout the state, and I had the opportunity to attend one at Camp American Legion in Lake Tomahawk, Wisconsin.

Camp American Legion’s mission is to provide rest, relaxation, recuperation and rehabilitation to Wisconsin veterans of all ages, actively serving military service members and their families, making it a perfect place to host the event.

We were lodged in cottages, and American Legion staff and volunteers served the meals. There was even a camp clown for the children who setup activities just for them. Soldiers were not the only attendees, as family members and other state employees also participated.

The instruction centered on meeting the needs of persons at risk through a strategy called “The Pathway for Assisting Life,” or PAL. PAL helps individuals confronted with a potentially suicidal person by providing a framework to use. It consists of connecting with suicide, understanding choices and assisting life.

One phrase continued to come through during the two-day training – “Safe for now.” Make the individual safe for now, and then assist them in seeking professional assistance.

The instructors taught and demonstrated the process before each student had the opportunity to practice for themselves, and the training culminated with one-on-one role playing scenarios where each student demonstrated his or her new skills.

So far Wisconsin has trained more than 400 Soldiers, employees, family members and volunteers, making it a safer place for everyone.

For more information on the ASIST program, contact Mr. Brian Skanron at brian.r.skanron@accenturefederal.com or Sgt. 1st Class Donald Grundy at Donald.e.grundy.mil@mail.mil.

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Today marks this year’s observance of Gold Star Mother’s Day – when the nation pauses to recognize the sacrifices of our Gold Star Families – all of whom lost loved ones in service to our nation, and on this day we remember the lives of the 10 Wisconsin National Guardsmen who have given their lives defending our freedom since 9/11.


We honor their families, as we also honor and remember the thousands of other American families who have sacrificed so much to defend liberty since our nation’s founding.


The tradition of hanging Service Flags or banners for deployed loved ones began during the First World War.


The flags included a blue star for each immediate family member serving in the armed forces during periods of war or hostilities. If that service member was killed in action the blue star was to be replaced with a gold star. The gold star served as a reminder to that community about the sacrifice paid by that family for their country.


In 1936, the United States began observing Gold Star Mothers Day on the last Sunday of September.


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