Buddy Checks are particularly timely since Veterans Day is next month. It’s a perfect time to conduct Buddy Checks on post members and veterans in the community so I am encouraging departments and posts to make calls during the week of Nov. 11.
American Legion Family members are making Buddy Check calls on regular schedules to let veterans and their families know they are not alone and that the American Legion Family stands ready to assist them in any way it can. If a Legionnaire calls you for a Buddy Check, don’t take that as an implication that you are struggling. Buddy Checks are for all veterans, but suicide prevention is perhaps the greatest benefit that can come from a Buddy Check.
Last month, in its annual report on National Veteran Suicide Prevention, VA updated its data to show a 7.2 percent decrease in veteran suicide in 2019 from the year before. The figure used is that 17.2 veterans per day took their own lives in 2019. The American Legion will not be satisfied until that figure is ZERO.
More recently, however, USA Today reported a 15 percent increase of suicide among active-duty troops in 2020.
We have a lot of work to do. And by “we” I don’t mean just The American Legion but America as a whole. Buddy checks are only one tool. We must remove all stigmas associated with asking for help or being diagnosed with PTSD, depression or any other condition that could lead one to take his or her own life.
We must reach out to our Afghanistan veterans who are experiencing a whole range of emotions due to recent events. We need to ensure that they are not isolated and that they know that they have a home and friends in our American Legion Family.
If you need help with starting a Buddy Check team, making phone calls or knowing what to say, a toolkit with this information and other valuable resources is available at www.legion.or/buddycheck.
Whether it’s through Buddy Checks or any of our programs for veterans and their families, we prove time and again that we are Veterans Strengthening America who believe in No Veteran