Dear American Legion Family Members and Friends,
The American Legion’s Buddy Check program came along at the perfect time. A year before COVID-19 wreaked havoc on our lives, Legionnaires had already begun reaching out to older veterans in their communities to perform wellness checks.
That type of outreach became even more critical when social-distancing measures, quarantines and stay-at-home orders became the norm. American Legion members dutifully checked in on at-risk members in their communities.
Thanks to these ongoing efforts during the pandemic, Legionnaires have been delivering needed medicine, food and camaraderie to older veterans who are unable or unwilling to venture outside their homes.
This Veterans Day and the holiday season that follows will be different than in the past, of course. The number of coronavirus cases is soaring throughout the nation. Instead of spreading cheer during these normal times of celebrations, many Legion posts will be forced to limit the size of gatherings, continue to conduct virtual events or cancel them altogether.
We know the camaraderie that Legionnaires share — especially around Veterans Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas — is important to their well-being. Without those celebratory events this year, more veterans may sink into depression or contemplate suicidal thoughts.
That is why The American Legion has developed a special enhanced Buddy Check kit focusing on the well-being of veterans during this time. We are counting on all Legionnaires to be alert to the signs of depression and suicidality when they make these Buddy Check calls.
To assist Legionnaires, the new toolkit is available with information on how to make contact, engage in conversation about suicide and direct veterans to the appropriate services. Review and download the kit here.
If you talk with a veteran in need of urgent help, call the Veterans Crisis Line at 800-273-8255 and press 1. Or text 838255. More information is available at the Veterans Crisis Line website.
Join me in reaching out to veterans in your community. It’s quite likely that these check-ins will save the lives of veterans.
For God and country,
James W. “Bill” Oxford
Together, we change lives for Veterans, their families and their communities.
Tell us Your Story