“Family” is a word that we use frequently in The American Legion. As far as this organization is concerned, it’s right up there with “veteran.”
Nothing can devastate a family like the loss of a veteran. It’s yet another reason why The American Legion has made suicide prevention its top priority. The National Executive Committee unanimously passed Resolution No. 7: American Legion Family Day at its meeting October 12-13, 2022, in Indianapolis. It establishes American Legion Family Day to be observed annually on the last Saturday of April. It encourages posts to open their doors to members of their community for a day and celebrate the accomplishments of Legionnaires, Sons of The American Legion members, and the American Legion Auxiliary. Among the goals is education.
Let visitors to your Family Day event know the issues that are important to The American Legion. Tell them about our Be the One program and our efforts to de-stigmatize the courageous decision to seek mental wellness. Include an information table at your post so veterans know that resources and help are available to cover all kinds of needs through American Legion Charities and other great programs. Brochures can be downloaded at legion.org/publications and betheone.org.
Too many veterans take their lives while feeling isolated and alone. Some have no close relatives to whom they can reach out. It is a mistake for them to believe they have no family. Whether they know it or not, they have an American Legion Family. We care about them. Legionnaires have also worn the uniform of the U.S. military and many of us have endured similar experiences.
Veterans don’t often advertise their personal crises. Prevention requires listening. Even trained professionals sometimes miss the signs. If you know a veteran who may be struggling, encourage a call to the 988 national crisis line. Follow up and ensure that the veteran knows that you are available as a friend and as a listener. In short, let him or her know that you are family.
Vincent J. “Jim” Troiola