American Legion Hampden Post 2 in Baltimore is a founding post since 1919. We have spent months preparing for the largest conference in Maryland for brain injury awareness and suicide prevention with the BIAMD team to allow us to offer services to nearly 400 attendees this year, in person. The BIAMD has been leading Maryland for 40 years with brain injury education and awareness. This is a great honor to have VA partner with Post 2 to help this community, one of the most challenging issues for our veterans during and after service.
Post 2 Commander Tom Longest is a TBI survivor (non-service-related) and has been serving the TBI community for 15 years with his wife Mary, a caregiver and also a TBI survivor, helping families rebuild after brain injury trauma.
This new relationship with the VA and Legion community through the BIAMD has opened the door for Baltimore VA Suicide Prevention team coordinator John H., also a distinguished veteran, caregiver and Post 2 member, to lead the way at the conference for two days.
The stories heard at the conference are heartbreaking, the need is tremendous and resources are limited.
This is why we do the work for our veterans, to make sure they are not alone.
People are suffering and they need support, and we are here for them!
TBI is a silent and often devastating injury that impacts millions each year, and Maryland has over 600,000 suffering with brain injury.
It is not easy to see how challenging it is, so the world of survival can be a difficult place for some and our goal is to offer education, advice and resources to those in need. TBI also has a high rate of suicide and other mental health challenges, especially if left untreated. Our purpose is to simply let them know we are here and have resources, like free support groups!
The first step at Post 2 is starting a brain injury support group in May, to meet once a month on the second Tuesday, for both survivors and their families. The caregiver often has to do the heavy work, so this is also their time to heal and rest with others who live with these challenges.
Last month the local media did a segment on Post 2 and how having a TBI can still offer ways to rebuild and that is what Post 2 is doing. See link for that story. https://www.wmar2news.com/local/brain-injured-man-uses-heart-to-help-others
There is another podcast about Toms story on Audacy Radio where he describes the TBI issues around 19 minutes into the session: https://omny.fm/shows/wliffm-on-demand/brain-injury-association-of-maryl...
The last year at Post 2 has been focused on rebuilding the structure while adding new services for our veterans and community. This year is another layer of our foundation.
To date, we have added a Veterans and First Responders Support Group, our BLT - Better Life with Technology - program teaching veterans and seniors technology, the Youth Garden Program teaching our city youth how to grow gardens in the city, and now the Brain Injury Support Group. We have many other services, but these are a few staples and we plan to add more as we find more help. Our Post 2 continues to serve our community wherever possible, so we use our limited resources with the highest impact. Our biggest challenge is getting volunteers and money to fund our programs, and we are working on this with others to find grants and funding to support these needs.
If you need help, there is also the new national 988 hotline for suicide prevention, press 1 for veterans. Please visit us @alpost2md on FB and the web to learn more about how we need support to create more services and challenge other posts to Be the One to make a difference in someone's life TODAY!