RICHMOND, Va. - About 40 service members, Department of Defense civilians and their families participated in the 2017 Suicide Prevention Awareness 5K Fun Run/Walk hosted by the 80th Training Command at the Defense Supply Center here on Sept. 29, 2017.
As the Suicide Prevention Program Manager for the 80th TC, Dr. Alvin Moore explained the goal of the event was to raise awareness of suicide and inspire people to be a part of preventing it.
"This is about more than just saying we care. It's about taking the time to genuinely care about one another," said Moore. "Each one of us needs to be aware of our coworkers, our battle buddies, and to look for signs that let us know when to intervene and prevent suicides."
Retired Sgt. 1st Class James Clark, formerly assigned to the 80th TC, said he enjoys supporting the command's run/walk every year. Even though Clark has never experienced suicidal thoughts, suicide has touched his life.
"I do understand what families go through...the consequences of someone committing suicide," said Clark. "A few years back, I had a commander who took his life. It was incredibly sad."
Participating in the event was important to Chief Warrant Officer 2 Mark Anderson, who works in the plans and operations office at the 80th TC. He explained that everyone can help reduce suicides by remembering to "check your buddy."
"If you notice them doing anything unusual or different than what they normally do, you need to pay attention and ask them how they're doing," said Anderson. "Another way we can help is to point them to resources, like our chaplains office at the 80th."
Participant Greg Franger, an Air Force veteran, encourages people to take part in the 5K event because raising awareness helps people know they are not alone. He said that running or walking is a great way to deal with stress and anxiety, which he believes may help reduce the risk of suicide.
"Being deployed to Afghanistan, I personally know service members who suffer with PTSD, and I want to support this cause," said Franger. "I also came out here because I like running and encouraging others to run. I think being physically active makes you feel better and helps you cope better, especially with all the issues related to PTSD."
If you or a loved one is suffering or experiencing a crisis, or have a friend who is suffering or in crisis, call 1-800-273-TALK (8255), press 1 for the Military Crisis Line, or text 838255.