Be the One on full display during month of May

Be the One on full display during month of May

Just as the No. 8 American Legion Honda has been a regular presence on the track during this year’s NTT INDYCAR SERIES, so also has been the Legion’s activation display promoting the organization’s Be the One veteran suicide prevention program.

That’s especially true this month at Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS), where the display has been up and running two days already and also will be open May 17-19 for Indy 500 practice and qualifications, May 24 for Carb Day and then May 26 for the 108th running of the Indianapolis 500.

While the display has plenty of fun things to do, it also has a mission: to educate about Be the One and to provide service to veterans who may need assistance with filing or following up on U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ benefits claims.

American Legion Department of Indiana Assistant Director of Rehabilitation Bryce Hullett interacted with dozens of veterans last year during three race weekends at IMS, filing claims for some, and already has been able to help more this year during the two days of the Sonsio Grand Prix. With the display’s expanded size, Hullett has an area in which to meet with veterans in a semi-private setting.

Also helping out at the display this month is American Legion Department of Indiana Commander Robert Oeth, a member of American Legion Post 351 in Eberfeld. Oeth also was at the track last weekend and is intending to be there for Indy 500 practice and qualifications.

For Oeth, it’s about the mission of Be the One and who it helps. “It’s all about the veteran,” he said. “Suicide being one of the top issues that veterans are struggling with – not only the older veterans, but our newer veterans – it’s very important just as a human being that we see some of the signs that we can point out or pick out and maybe get that veteran the help he or she needs.”

The 40’x40’ display is a collaboration between The American Legion and new agency partner Breaking Limits, which is owned by NASCAR Hall of Fame driver Bobby Labonte and his wife, Kristin. Display visitors have the opportunity to take the pledge to Be the One for a veteran. Those who do are given a lanyard and a badge with the words “I Will Be the One” on it; those who take the pledge and are seen by Legion staff and volunteers around the track have a shot at winning a prize that could include autographed items, seat upgrades or a Victory Lane photo with the race winner.

A “fast-pass” lane is in place to give veterans and active-duty military quicker access to the display’s services and fun. Veterans and servicemembers have the ability to join the Legion, either through national or with whatever American Legion department is hosting the display.

The display also has hosted driver autograph sessions, has games for visitors to play, and houses thank-you gifts for veterans and servicemembers – including special gifts for Legionnaires.

In addition to every INDYCAR race weekend, the display this year also will be on hand for NASCAR races in Nashville (June 28-30), Bristol, Tenn. (Sept. 19-21); and Las Vegas (Oct. 18-20).

Oeth said between the display and the American Legion branding featured on Linus Lundqvist’s No. 8 American Legion Honda, awareness for Be the One continues to grow.

“(Seeing the No. 8 on the track) sort of gives you shivers and goosebumps,” he said. “We know the value of that Be the One logo and The American Legion logo being on that car for the world to see, not just us here in America. Any place that is races, it’s that advertisement.”

To learn more about the Legion’s Be the One program – including how to participate in training sessions – click here.