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Never Accept Defeat 
 
Brig. Gen. Paul G. Smith, Assistant Adjutant General (Army), Massachusetts National Guard 
 


We lost four Guardsmen in one month. They were fathers, husbands, sons, brothers, and friends. They were also comrades, patriots, and warriors who served our nation with honor.

Like many of us, I am deeply saddened, but also angry and frustrated that we cannot save our brothers and sisters who lose their way and can't find a way out. But as a senior leader in the finest fighting force in the world, I remind myself of the words of the creed by which we live: "I will never quit…I will never leave a fallen comrade…I am a warrior and a member of a team…I will never accept defeat."

As a warrior I am calling on all of you, my fellow warriors and teammates, to join me in the fight to save the lives of our comrades who suffer from PTSD, depression, and substance abuse. I ask you to take these defensive measures and get these messages out across our force:

1. No one in our force is ever alone. Ensure that everyone has a wing man or battle buddy who stays in touch between drills.

2. Seeking help is a sign of strength, not weakness. There's no shame in taking a knee when you need to ask for assistance. We've fought terrorists here and overseas. We've safeguarded our citizens in hurricanes, snowstorms, and a tornado. If anyone needs to take a breather, we'll support them, and we know they'll come back to the fight stronger. No one's career will suffer because they were wise enough to get help. If anyone thinks they're being punished because they sought counseling, I want to hear about it. 

3. See something - hear something - say something. If a buddy says or does something that makes you concerned, inform your chain of command or the chaplain quickly - you may save a life.

4. Remember the basics. Keep your ACE card with you at all times to remember the steps of Ask-Care-Escort and to always have the National Suicide Prevention Hotline phone number (1-800-273-8255) with you in case someone needs it.

5. We are all LIFE GUARDS. Always be watching for a brother or sister in trouble. Always be ready to intervene. Always be ready to save a life.

Throughout my 35 year career as a Soldier, I've learned to reach out to my teammates when I'm in trouble. Whether it was my squad or my brigade, my fellow warriors have always come through for me. Today I'm asking all of you to join me in the fight to save our brothers and sisters. It's a battle we can't afford to lose. One death is one too many. We must never accept defeat.

10/8/2013