As part of our mental health programs, the Canadian Forces we run a suicide intervention program called ASIST (Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training), which teaches soldiers what signs to watch for and gives them strategies to come alongside and assist a friend or comrade who may be acting suicidal. This story from the US Department of Defence News Service offers a great example of what that sort of friendship and intervention looks like in real life. MP+

Face of Defense: Buddy’s Concern Saves Soldier’s Life

By Zach Morgan
Fort Polk Guardian

FORT POLK, La., May 18, 2010 – Aug. 7, 2008, was a hot day in Iraq, and it seemed as if the walls were closing in on Army Spc. Joe Sanders.

Army Cpl. Joe Sanders and Spc. Albert Godding pose April 27, 2010, after Godding received a Meritorious Service Medal for preventing Sanders’ suicide in Iraq in 2008U.S. Army photo by Zach Morgan

Sanders had deployed to Iraq with the 10th Mountain Division’s 5th Battalion, 25th Artillery Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team. Sander’s wife was leaving him, and he had several months left to serve in Iraq when he attempted suicide by turning his weapon on himself.

His battle buddy, Army Spc. Albert Godding, had seen the signs of Sanders’ stress, and removed the firing pin from his friend’s rifle earlier that day. The weapon misfired and Godding confronted his friend about the attempt. Sanders sought counseling and made it home alive.

On April 27 here, Godding received the Meritorious Service Medal for his actions. He is now with the 4th Infantry Division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team at Fort Carson, Colo., and was at Fort Polk for a pre-deployment rotation with his unit when he received the award.

Sanders is thankful his friend had intervened in Iraq.

“Every day I wake up, I have to thank Godding,” he said. “If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t have gotten to experience my fiancée. I wouldn’t have gotten to lead troops, or attend schools and learn. Those are things I love to do.”

Read the whole piece here.