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    Ruck Out of Darkness: bouncing back by marching together

    Ruck Out of Darkness: bouncing back by marching together

    Photo By Sgt. Christina Clardy | AUSTIN, Texas — Twenty-two Soldiers, Noncommissioned Officers and Leaders of the...... read more read more

    TEXAS, UNITED STATES

    06.16.2022

    Story by Sgt. Christina Clardy 

    36th Infantry Division (TXARNG)

    AUSTIN, Texas – Texas Army National Guard Soldiers and leaders from the 36th Infantry Division participated in a Ruck Out of Darkness suicide prevention awareness and resiliency ruck march June 16, 2022, at Camp Mabry in Austin, Texas.

    “The Ruck out of Darkness builds unit readiness and helps Soldiers to see the community that they have around them and in their unit,” said the 36th Inf. Div. Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion Chaplain Capt. Angel Newhart, the lead event coordinator. “Soldiers are given updated resources, hear stories, and get to connect with support teams along the route. It’s a motivating and fun way to have serious conversations about suicide prevention which can help when discussing a really heavy topic like suicide.”

    The 36th Div. previously held a Ruck Out of Darkness event in 2021 while the unit was deployed to the Middle East.

    “We received a lot of positive feedback from our last event, and we wanted to do that again here now that our unit is home,” said Newhart. “This unit set up stations along the route where the participants can stop to rest and drink water while listening to stories from our chaplain teams, receive information from master resiliency trainers, and hear encouragement and support about the importance of mental health from leadership.”

    According to a report released by the Defense Suicide Prevention Office of the Department of Defense, 2021 had the highest number of suicides across the military than any other year since the start of the Global War on Terror.

    “Suicide prevention affects unit readiness – but the main focus is about the Soldiers,” said Newhart. “Soldiers in our units are more than just a number, they are the heart of the force, the focal point of our unit’s community. If this event can save even just one more, then every effort is worth it.”

    The 36th Div. promotes physical, mental and spiritual resilience through its adoption of many DOD programs and unit requirements such as resiliency classes, suicide prevention and intervention training, “Ask, Care, Escort” training, behavioral health officers, chaplains through unit ministry teams, and suicide intervention officers.

    “This event is a really effective way that allows a Soldier who may be struggling an attention-free way to get all of the contact numbers, names and resources they need without them feeling uncomfortable asking for help,” said Newhart. “The Ruck Out of Darkness is also about building and promoting community and teambuilding, such as our division’s new focus of the ‘my squad’ messaging,”

    The division has recently adopted the U.S. Army’s new mantra regarding the care and support of its Soldiers. The “this is my squad” mentality is being strongly promoted by every level of leadership to connect Soldiers to their sections, to their teams and their units.

    “I love the new ‘my squad’ mentality that is building in our unit,” said Maj. Gen. Win Burkett, the commanding general of the 36th Div. “It says that it's about every Soldier; it’s every Soldier connecting with their unit, not as a job - but as a community. I am no better than any Soldier in my unit; we are all in this together, and this is our community and our family.”

    During this event, the HHBN unit ministry team wanted to encourage the ‘my squad’ mindset through-out the 6-mile night ruck march by adding in a little friendly competition.

    “The Ruck Out of Darkness really affects Soldiers because they are engaging in a physical activity while talking to each other, to their leaders and to support teams in a relaxed environment,” said Newhart. “We wanted to encourage more of that openness and so we handed out achievement patches to squads in a really fun way. We had the fastest squad, the slowest squad, and the most disoriented squad.”

    Leadership and the chaplain ministry team from the Texas Military Department, the division’s parent unit joined the event to share resources, to participate and spend time with the ruck marchers to show their support and be available to talk to any Soldier that may need it.

    “To be able to go out and give [the Soldiers] that information is essential,” said Newhart. “We know from events that we’ve done in the past that they don’t know who we are, or they are unsure of the proper way to reach us. This can especially be true with newer Soldiers. We want to be there anytime anyone needs us.”

    Suicide and suicide prevention is a hot topic in the military and there continues be new and revamped programs available to Soldiers and leadership.

    Honestly, the outcome to this and other events like it is prevention,” said Newhart. “If we can prevent even one suicide it is worth it. Even with all of these events and programs… if we can prevent just one then it’s absolutely worth it.”

    NEWS INFO

    Date Taken: 06.16.2022
    Date Posted: 07.17.2022 12:20
    Story ID: 425156
    Location: TEXAS, US

    Web Views: 267
    Downloads: 0

    PUBLIC DOMAIN