Buddy Checks and voter assistance can be united
Photo by Ash Ponders/The American Legion

Buddy Checks and voter assistance can be united

The American Legion has conducted thousands of Buddy Checks over the last two years, performing wellness outreach and offering assistance to members and non-members alike in communities across the nation. During the COVID-19 pandemic, that outreach has meant a lot to isolated veterans and their families, often in need of groceries, medicine or just someone to talk to.

And, for over a century, The American Legion has worked diligently to educate and energize the electorate through the “Get Out the Vote” program.

American Legion National Commander James W. “Bill” Oxford says the coming election is an ideal opportunity to connect the two programs. “I am calling on all of our posts to reach out in the weeks ahead through Buddy Check programs and ask veterans if they need any help with this year’s election process, which could be confusing due to the pandemic,” Oxford said. “That may mean helping them understand the procedure to mail in ballots where that is available, cast absentee ballots if necessary, or it could simply mean catching a ride to a polling place, which could be crowded with long wait times, due to a reduced number of polls that are COVID-safe.”

Equally important, especially now as temperatures drop, Legionnaires are urged to ask veterans in their communities how they are feeling, if they need help getting to VA health-care facilities or if they need food, household supplies or just someone to talk to. “When Past National Commander Brett Reistad launched the Buddy Check program in 2019, he called it a ‘comradeship campaign,’” Oxford said. “The American Legion is uniquely positioned to contact veterans and their families, using MyLegion.org and past membership rosters as resources, to let them know that comradeship is available anytime, for whatever they want or need.”

Oxford added that Legionnaires should wear face coverings when assisting veterans in person and abide by local directives to maintain social distance where they apply.

“Veteran Votes Count,” an American Legion initiative, encourages members of the organization and their families to act on their hard-won democratic rights and fully participate in the general election Nov. 3.