Several weeks ago, American Legion National Commander Vincent J. Troiola mentioned a program named “Be the One” to put a stop to escalating veteran suicides in America. The rate of suicides among veterans and active-duty servicemen and women is alarming, growing every day. We’ve talked about ‘22 A Day’ for some time nowk but talking and doing are two different things. The actual number of daily average suicides may be double - 44, or even more on any given day. The challenge from the commander to Legion members was to BE the ONE:
*TO ASK VETERANS IN YOUR LIFE HOW THEY ARE DOING
*TO LISTEN WHEN A VETERAN NEEDS TO TALK
*TO REACH OUT WHEN A VETERAN IS STRUGGLING
As a member of Northwest Iowa American Legion Riders Post 241 in Le Mars, Iowa, I have stood flaglines for veteran suicide funerals; I’ve had a son-in-law commit suicide; one of our members of Post 241's Legion Riders recently had a son (vet) who tragically ended his life. All this together made me decide to try to do something - anything - to address the horrendous number of veteran suicides in my Legion district and beyond. It occurred to me that if I created some kind of a wristband with a message “Call 988 option 1 - UR NEVER ALONE,” I could give them out free of charge. The hope is that the message would ‘click’ with the wearer if they encountered a vet who was depressed. I went ahead and ordered the wristbands, then decided to present my idea to my Legion post. The support was overwhelming. The wristbands are a big success and have gone out not only to this area but well beyond. Now, with a grant from Northwest Iowa American Legion Riders and donations from many, I have purchased key fobs and lanyards to hand out too. I used a Legion Rider-owned company called Wicked Graphix (they’re on FB). They not only quickly got the order done but also gave me a reduced cost!
Veterans Lives Matter! Be the One!