I am a veteran, DoD contractor and have had some experience in law enforcement. I was deployed twice, once in Kosovo and the second time in Kuwait. When I returned home, the friends and family I had known my whole life seemed like strangers. I wasn't able to find the brotherhood and acceptance I had shared - the one that knew what you were going through without saying a word - since I was overseas or in LE, and I was collapsing.
When I joined The American Legion, and moreover when I saw the Be the One program, I nearly broke down in tears. As someone who has attempted suicide himself, I immediately felt like I belonged somewhere, that someone cared, who understands my pain and has been where I've been and seen what I've seen. It gave me a new place and purpose in life, and I began a push for the program in my post (Post 53) and in my Riders group to promote it. Everyone was eager to get behind it and we were able to put together an event in less than three weeks.
Having experienced the crisis the program describes, I believe my experience has given me first-hand understanding of what others are going through, and additionally has given me the ability to directly relate to those experiencing the same thing, which allows me to extend a hand, give them the hope you have given me, and bring them into the arms of The American Legion. My only wish is that it gives them the hope to continue to be a part of something bigger than them, like we all used to be, that means something more to them and to others.
Thank you, American Legion! Thank you, Be the One!