After returning to Kentucky from the 2023 American Legion National Convention, Sons of The American Legion National Executive Committeeman Brandon Curry approached Hardin Post 113 Legionnaire Tom Folsom about getting more involved in the Legion’s Be the One suicide-prevention program.
“The post really hadn’t done anything with it, so Tom and I took it upon ourselves to get this mission and the awareness out there,” said Curry, commander of Squadron 113 in Elizabethtown. “And then Tom reached out to someone from (the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs).”
The result is Post 113 will host VA S.A.V.E. Training at 6 p.m. on Dec. 5 that is open to the community. The training will focus on reducing the stigma about asking for mental health help, how to talk to the person and ask tough questions, and provide information on where to get help.
“(S.A.V.E. Training) and Be the One are very, very close,” said Folsom, the safety director for the Department of Kentucky American Legion Riders. “This was an opportunity to get a professional to come down and teach this. And then he’ll stay around and answer questions if people have them, which is huge. Brandon and I, we’re not professionals, but we’ll have someone on hand who is.”
In October during the Legion’s Fall Meetings in Indianapolis, the organization’ National Executive Committee passed Resolution No. 9, which 9 strongly encourages American Legion posts to host VA S.A.V.E. training classes and to invite local community, government agencies, not-for-profits and businesses to participate in the training.
S.A.V.E. Training focus on four key facets:
· S - Signs of suicidal thinking should be recognized.
· A - Ask the most important question of all, “Are you thinking of killing yourself?”
· V - Validate the veteran’s experience.
· E - Encourage treatment and expedite getting help.
“Hardin County and Elizabethtown, we’re right there in Fort Knox’s backyard, so we’re a very veteran-friendly community,” Curry said. “A lot of people who were stationed at Fort Knox … will come back after they retire and stay in Hardin County. We want to be able to get our folks – our post members and our veterans in the community – and let them know, ‘Hey, there is something out there. There is assistance. There are programs if you know of somebody who needs assistance.”
American Legion posts interested in hosting a VA S.A.V.E. training class can facilitate it through their local VA Medical Center’s suicide-prevention team. A post can locate contact information for their local suicide prevention team through the Veterans Crisis Line Resource using this link. Once on the website, enter a ZIP code and press search. Then select the box next to Suicide Prevention Coordinators and press search again. Once completed, you will be provided with the closest suicide prevention coordinator and their contact information.