Dear American Legion Family members and friends,
When contemplating my first message as national commander of The American Legion, there was consistently one topic I wanted to address: our Be the One initiative.
Nothing is more important than our effort to reduce the number of veterans who die by suicide.
Seventeen, 22 or even more a day. Even one is one too many.
As I said in my acceptance speech last week, “… with all this talk about numbers on this very subject, the only number I want us to push is ‘one,’ as in Be the One to save one, yes, one veteran, or even their spouse, from taking his or her own life.”
The life of one veteran saved makes all the difference in the world.
That gets to the heart of the Be the One mission. While the initiative was only launched two years ago, it is already starting to make a difference. I can feel the momentum. It’s an honor to be part of this organization-wide effort.
You, too, can help build on this momentum to raise awareness about the issue, guide resources to those in need and eliminate the stigma sometimes associated with mental health counseling — all of which will contribute to reducing the veteran suicide rate.
Here are some ways that you and/or your post can play a vital role:
• Host a fitness-related event to raise awareness about Be the One, as well as improving one’s physical and mental wellbeing. Posts across the nation have hosted 5K walk-runs and other similar events, including this one from my home state of Wisconsin.
• Put together a symposium or resource fair where local service providers can share their resources with veterans in your community. Posts in Illinois, Massachusetts and elsewhere have put on events like these to bring together veterans and those who can assist them with resources.
• Be creative and spread the word about Be the One in your communities, especially on Be the One days — the first day of every month. And share how you are driving Be the One awareness by posting the story on our Legiontown web page.
Above all else, talk about it. Learn what to do when a fellow veteran needs help. And — above all else — Be the One.
Daniel J. Seehafer