Dear American Legion Family Members and Friends,
There has been an undue amount of stress foisted upon our nation’s veterans in the past month.
We’ve seen the Taliban retake Afghanistan as the remaining U.S. troops withdrew. The speed of the Taliban’s resurgence made it all the more shocking. It also rekindled memories for veterans, especially from the Vietnam era, who saw similar occurrences.
Those who served in Afghanistan have been — and in many cases still are — concerned about the fate of their beloved interpreters and other allies who helped U.S. troops.
And, as a nation, we all collectively mourned once again the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on our soil. The pain still lingers 20 years after the 9/11 attacks.
For veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder, these events can be upsetting. It’s no secret that the veteran suicide rate is outrageously high. Estimated at 20 veterans per day, I believe that even one veteran lost to suicide in a day is too many.
September is National Suicide Prevention Month. While we should be working at preventing suicide every day, every week and every month of the year, September marks a good time to remind everyone of some of the resources available, including:
- The American Legion’s Buddy Checks. While these were originally intended for twice-annual check-ins with veterans, they are really a tool that can be used any day. If you haven’t checked on veterans in your community lately, there is no better time than now. A simple call or visit will surely brighten a veteran’s day. Even better, invite a veteran to your post. The American Legion has a peer-to-peer network that is unmatched. It’s a great way to talk with another veteran who understands exactly what another veteran is going through. For more on how to conduct Buddy Checks, visit our web page.
- The VA crisis line. This confidential service is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Just call 800-273-8255 and Press 1. You can also text 838255. More information can be found here.
- You. Whether you are a veteran, current servicemember, family member or other supporter, you can make a difference. Get to know the warning signs and act swiftly. If we all work together to shine a light during a veteran’s darkest moments, we can and we will reduce the alarming rate of suicides.
Thank you for what you do every day for our nation, our members and the communities in which we serve.
Veterans Strengthening America.
Paul E. Dillard, National Commander