American Legion posts, districts and department are finding creative and impactful ways of delivering the Be the One message to their communities. Since the campaign to reduce the rate of veteran suicide was launched less than a year ago, American Legion events have included hikes and ruck marches, symposiums and outreach initiatives such as this one at a Portland Trail Blazers NBA game.
Here are six steps to creating, promoting and hosting a successful Be the One event in your community:
1. Determine what type of event fits your community best. Once you decide whether it is an awareness hike, educational program or other event, determine the best options for a location, date and external partners.
2. Get internal support. Engage with and rally other members of your post, squadron, Auxiliary, Legion Riders, district and/or department. There are likely people who are passionate about preventing veteran suicide who would be willing to contribute to the overall effort. Work on a timeline, build a list of tasks and make assignments to those involved in the effort.
3. Visit the Be the One resources page at the national website. There are a wide range of promotional resources available for your use. Those include videos, customizable brochures, a sample press release, banners and more. Learn how to download and customize a brochure like this Legionnaire from Arizona did for an event at his post.
4. Look outside your Legion Family for support. Discuss with community partners about how they can support this initiative to save the lives of veterans. That could mean utilizing the space at a community center. Or having guests from other community service partners present and/or speak at the event. It could also mean donations to the Be the One initiative.
5. Promote the event internally and externally. Send a press release and reach out to local media and encourage them to advance the event and cover it. National headquarters has created a sample template for a press release, which can be downloaded here. Once you open the Word document, you can update it with your event information and distribute it to local media, community partners and others. Additonally, National Headquarters is always on the lookout for good Be the One stories to share. Submit your event, before and/or after, with a story on the Legiontown web page.
6. Do an after action report. Note what was successful and what could be improved upon for next time. And know that your contribution to the Be the One initiative likely saved the life of at least one veteran.