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NEWS | Nov. 1, 2021

JB MDL Couple on a Mission for Life

By Daniel Barney Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst Public Affairs

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Marcus Slade, 87th Air Base Wing non-commissioned officer in charge of chapel readiness, and his wife Patrice, 87th Civil Engineer Group unit program coordinator, serve as members of the New Jersey chapter of the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention (AFSP). Since 2017, the Slades have been raising awareness for suicide prevention within the Joint Base MDL community.

Managing over 21 counties within New Jersey, the organization keeps the Slades quite busy.

“Our responsibilities include holding monthly meetings and community outreach events, gathering volunteers, talking with vendors, marketing, fundraising and coordinating events that promote suicide prevention,” said Slade. “This job holds countless responsibilities for us…but we want the presence to be seen by the public.”

Coping with the loss of loved ones encouraged the couple to join the AFSP.

“We became interested in the topic of suicide prevention after we lost a friend,” said Slade. “Along with friends, who also suffered loss, we began asking ourselves if we could have done more for the people we lost.”

While stationed on Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, Patrice implemented a fundraiser to promote awareness of suicide prevention. The event became so successful, it led them to become co-chairmen of the Camden County Out of Darkness Walk, which took place Oct. 9, 2021, in Camden, New Jersey.

“The purpose was to give the walkers a day to honor the loved ones that they lost, while we provide them with on-site counseling services, and allow the participants to post archival pictures of their lost loved ones,” said Slade. “Also, the walk had a bead ceremony where each color represents a different loss. This walk was also inclusive to those who have not experienced a loss but wanted to support the movement.”

The AFSP raised $56,000 worth of donations for Camden County and over $925,000 for the state of New Jersey, as of October 26th. The AFSP is still accepting donations from those who want to support the cause. If anyone is interested in learning more about the organization, please log in to AFSP.org for more guidance and resources.

Tech. Sgt. Slade and Patrice urge the public to take a stand in helping those who struggle with thoughts of suicide, mental health issues and depression. It is their goal to have more people who are unaffected by suicide show support and compassion towards those affected, in hope to maintain a stable and healthy community.