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Colorado Wingman Project teaches National Guard families how to stop suicides

12/6/09 -- Buckley Air Force Base, CO - Attendees at the 140th Wing, Colorado Air National Guard's holiday party learned that "Never Leave Your Wingman" is the mantra of the Colorado Wingman Project. The Wingman Project is a national program to build awareness and teach military members and their loved ones how to intervene to save a life. Created in 2007 at the National Guard Bureau, the Wingman Project expanded in 2009 to serve 54 U.S. states and territories, including Colorado.

Brig. Gen. Trulan Eyre, commander of the 140th Wing, was on hand this weekend to offer his support for the Wingman Project's message of intervening to save a life. Family Support Manager, Grace Finley, ensured that unit members and their loved ones received pocket cards and key ring reminders about the program. Gen. Eyre chaired a meeting on the subject in August, where the Wingman Project founder and national program manager briefed Mrs. Finley and the wing's leadership on how to get started.

Complementing existing military suicide prevention programs, The Wingman Project teaches an Air Force-endorsed technique known as Ask, Care, Escort (ACE). With ACE, Guard members and their families are trained to identify the potential signs of distress in their friends and family and then act to save a life. If someone shows potential symptoms of contemplating suicide, wingmen are taught to "Ask" direct questions about suicide, "Care" for the individual through active listening, being present, and removing potentially dangerous items, and finally "Escorting" or otherwise getting the person to immediate professional help, whether professional mental health or professional or military chaplain.

Aside from the Air National Guard, the Wingman Project also works with elements of Military One Source, the Veteran's Administration, the Air Force Safety Center, and trainers of the Air Force's suicide prevention program called ASIST.

For more information visit the Wingman Project on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn. For immediate help dial the National Suicide Helpline at (800) 273-8255 Option 1.