From April 24-29, more than 30,000 fire service professionals descended on Indianapolis for the annual FDIC International, North America’s leading firefighter conference. And also present at the conference were American Legion national staff, who manned a booth promoting the Legion’s “Be the One” suicide-prevention initiative while providing information on Legion programs and assistance with benefits claims for veterans in attendance.
Erin Bossen, a Member Engagement & Training Coordinator in the Legion’s Internal Affairs & Membership Division, said that during the three days the Legion’s booth was at the conference, she and other national staff engaged with around 100 individuals.
“During the conference, we focused on informing fire chiefs and upcoming leaders about (the Legion’s Firefighter of the Year and EMT of the Year) awards, which are available at local American Legion posts,” Bossen said. “We also discussed various events, such as American Legion Family Day and Training Tuesdays, with the American Legion members we met. Furthermore, we introduced our ‘Be The One’ campaign, and over half of the attendees expressed interest in participating.”
Bossen said during the conference her group learned of a Michigan fire station that co-hosts a Firefighter's Ball with their American Legion post, and also met a son who was looking for a way to honor his father. Bossen said he was made aware of the Sons of The American Legion and plans to join.
“Lastly, we met a family that had thought about joining the American Legion Family but needed more information on how to do so,” Bossen said. “We were able to provide them with the necessary information and answer their questions.”
Steven M. Voller, a Veterans Disability Claims & Appeals Specialist based out of Indianapolis, stayed busy at the booth over the three days, interacting with firefighters who are veterans, and firefighters who have veterans they work with or in their family.
“We provided at least 75 business cards to veterans and non-veterans that were interested in obtaining information or assistance from VSOs (veteran service officers) in their state/county,” Voller said. “We provided guidance and information on who to contact in their area as needed. We provided my card if they needed additional information or had questions in the future.
“I provided one-on-one counseling/information to 10 veterans that took documents with them, eight of which are going to work with their local VSOs in their home state/county. Two of the 10 veterans returned the completed forms, and I will be assisting them personally. I am following up with them this week. Overall, I think it was a very successful engagement from the VSO perspective.”