NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP, abc24.com) - The National Guard celebrated its 375th birthday Tuesday in Nashville with state officials announcing a new suicide prevention smartphone app for Tennessee soldiers.
The "Guard Your Buddy" app is the first of its kind in the country with the potential to spread to other states, Guard officials said on Tuesday. At least six Tennessee guardsmen or women have taken their lives since 2004.
"There's a stigma in the military about suicide," said Maj. Gen. Terry "Max" Haston, the state adjutant general. "We want to take it away."
Soldiers, or others, can use the app to dial a clinician when suicide is threatened.
Haston told reporters he is encouraging his fellow adjutant generals to follow Tennessee's lead.
The Tennessee Guard held an hour-long ceremony at its headquarters to mark the birthday and trace the history of the military in the state.
"Our Guard has been there (more than) 100 years leading the way," Haston said.
Gov. Bill Haslam told the gathering that Tennessee has had among the highest percentage of its population with troops deployed to the Middle East.