"We go the distance for you because you're not alone," said Chandra Hunter, the NAACP Veteran Affairs Chair. "We care, and we want to bring awareness to our community and to Fort Stewart. This is what we need to do, this is what we need to look out for."
The Liberty Country NAACP hosted a suicide prevention walk in Hinesville, Georgia, Sept. 24, 2022, to bring suicide awareness to the local communities and Soldiers of Fort Stewart. September is Suicide Prevention Month, and this event helped highlight the importance of offering care and asking for help during times of need.
Participation in the prevention walk was open to anyone. Participants started at the SFC Paul R. Smith Army Education Center and walked approximately 4.5 miles around Hinesville before returning to the start point.
"This event is not only for the military, not only for the local community, but for everyone," said Hunter.
Hunter emphasized the importance of the walk with the hope that it would raise awareness of the concept of ACT.
Act: ask someone if they're thinking about suicide
Care: let the person know you care, and listen and talk openly with them
Treat: don't be afraid to seek out assistance and receive treatment through provided resources
"There's going to be a sign every mile," said Hunter. "It's going to have verbiage on those signs for every mile like 'Hey, I'm pushing for you. I'm walking the distance with you. You're not alone.'"
The hosts hoped the suicide prevention walk would not only bring awareness to the surrounding communities, but also give purpose to the participants and encourage them to be ready to help others in need.
"I have a passion for serving others," said Wendell Hodges Jr., a Florida native who participated in the walk. "It feels good to get out and do this walk with others."
For Suicide Prevenion Month, the Army’s emphasis is “We’re in this together.” Ensuring that everyone has a strong support system is critical for ensuring that no one loses a loved one.
"Don't be afraid to ask for help," said Hunter. "Don't be afraid to ask 'Are you okay? Are you thinking about committing suicide?' Be alert, be aware and help save someone's life."
For more information or to find suicide prevetion resources, please visit https://www.militaryonesource.mil/