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.

  1. The Effects of Trauma – Trauma comes from physical, mental & emotional and moral injury. What does that look like?
  2. The Nature of Suicide – Why do people commit suicide?
  3. The Helper’s Role – What we are asking of and expecting from you, the Rearguard.
  4. Risk Assessment – Becoming aware of the risk your buddy is in, especially regarding suicide.
  5. Critical Action – Taking immediate action particularly when your buddy appears to be suicidal.
  6. Follow Up – Longer term follow up to establish and encourage your buddy.
  7. Caring For Yourself – This kind of effort can have serious impact on you.
  8. Six Man Resources – Articles, books, video, testimonies.
  9. Six Man Project Teamwork – Links to connect with other Rearguard members.
  10. 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.