The Rearguard Project
Helping your battle buddy turn thoughts of despair and suicide into hope, strength and stability.
“I’ve got your six.”
Everyone who has ever served in combat knows what those words mean.
You knew how to make good on that promise when you were downrange. Your training, your mindset, your experience, the situation, and — above all — the personal bond that had been forged in the fire of warfare, all combined to make defending your buddy an automatic and limitless act.
But keeping that promise when you got stateside and scattered has become increasingly complicated. It’s likely you have already lost a few friends to suicide. And with everything in you, you wish that there was something you could have done to prevent it. And you have other comrades who are at risk right now. Your commitment is still automatic and limitless, but what can you do? While there are no magic words or actions that are guaranteed to stop someone from killing themselves if they are determined to do so, there are many things that you can do to increase the probability that your friend will back away from the edge.
This site will give you practical ways to be an effective “Rearguard” for your battle buddy.
You will see ten primary sections below and we encourage you to read them in order.
- The Effects of Trauma – Trauma comes from physical, mental & emotional and moral injury. What does that look like?
- The Nature of Suicide – Why do people commit suicide?
- The Helper’s Role – What we are asking of and expecting from you, the Rearguard.
- Risk Assessment – Becoming aware of the risk your buddy is in, especially regarding suicide.
- Critical Action – Taking immediate action particularly when your buddy appears to be suicidal.
- Follow Up – Longer term follow up to establish and encourage your buddy.
- Caring For Yourself – This kind of effort can have serious impact on you.
- Six Man Resources – Articles, books, video, testimonies.
- Six Man Project Teamwork – Links to connect with other Rearguard members.
- Recruiting Other Helpers – Looking for others to be Rearguard members.
Why this Site Exists
There are many helpful options to help those struggling with suicidal thoughts: Suicide hot lines; Counselors and psychologists; the VA will give top priority to those who come to them for help; books that address depression; medications designed to take the edge off a person’s despair. But they share one key weakness: They all require the suicidal person to take the initiative and seek help.
Are soldiers reluctant to admit perceived weakness? Does any service member want to be a burden to his battle buddies? Are they going to let their wounds slow them down? Their first reaction is “NO!” In fact, they “suck it up and drive on” regardless of the adversities they encounter. These are both honorable qualities and potentially fatal flaws. They are the mindset of a true warrior on the battlefield. But when the enemy morphs from a human combatant into a psychological or spiritual one, few have been trained how to fight that battle. This enemy is often far superior in tactics and firepower. The only strategy at this point is to call for reinforcements. But many delay that call until it’s too late, and they are overrun.
This site is designed to give their battle buddies — you — information and practical tools that enable you to take the initiative and be the reinforcements they need. This information will help you assess the level of crisis in your buddy and give you practical ways to be their “Six Man.” Just as importantly, it will also help you from getting overrun in the process.It won’t make you an expert or train you to the level of a professional crisis counselor by any means. But it will turn you into an effective QRF for your buddy who is losing his defensive positions.
The Effects of Trauma
This post is under construction but will describe the effects of trauma on returning combat veterans. Post #1 of The Six Man Project.Read More
The Nature of Suicide
Suicide. A word that no one wants to hear. Yet regardless of age, race, sex, economic status, success level, marital status, ethnic background, people are affected by suicide. There is a veil of secrecy over the subject …Read More
The Helper’s Role
You are the “Six Man”! But what is your role as a helper in all this? What should you be expecting of yourself? Let us lay out some expectations for your involvement in this project. 1. You are not the one responsible for your buddy’s survival. That burden does not belong to you. Please repeat. That burden does not belong to you.Read More
The Conversation – As a “Six Man” your primary task will be connecting with your buddy “Joe.” That initial conversation is crucial as it lays down the groundwork for future interaction. In this conversation you will be looking for red flags, particularly suicidal thoughts or tendencies. Things to remember when calling your buddy, “Joe” …Read More
Encountering Crisis – Take Critical Action
This post is under construction but will describe the critical action steps the Six Man will need to take in the event their buddy is at high risk of suicide. You, the Six Man, need to have read this material before you get started in order to be best prepared if a crisis arises.
Caring for Yourself
Compassion Fatigue – This post is under construction but will describe the importance of the Six Man caring for himself. As has been said, “you are no good to anybody if you’re dead.” Reaching out and caring for others can come at a high cost to yourself.Read More
Six Man Resources
Resources for the Six Man
The information for this page is still be collected and will be organized later…
Un-ordered collection of information:
These books by Dr. Thomas Joiner can be found in our Recommended Resources page.Read More
Rearguard Project Teamwork
Team Connections – We believe that all the “Six Men” in any given group (e.g., the 2/7th Marine Battalion) need to be able to interact with one other for encouragement, feedback and information. At this time we will be using the facility of closed Facebook Groups.Read More
Recruiting Other Helpers
The Six Man Project is not an “army of one.” It is a team. Let’s get some perspective here … The Project Objective: Connect with everyone in the battalion. 960 men. Not counting those who are separated or retired from the military and are no longer in the battalion. – The Probable Outcome: Humanly ImpossibleRead More