American Legion posts, districts, counties and departments were called upon in March by immediate Past National Commander Brett Reistad to make “Buddy Checks” by calling Legionnaires and former members during the week leading up to the Legion’s 100th birthday as a way to check in and see how they are doing.
Legionnaires who made Buddy Checks found that The American Legion’s assistance is needed, whether the need is financial, food, transportation, a home visit or just to have someone listen to their military service story.
As a way to continue connecting with veterans to see how they are and what needs they have, the National Executive Committee passed Resolution 18 during Spring Meetings in May. The resolution calls upon Buddy Checks to be conducted Legion-wide on the weeks of The American Legion’s birthday and Veterans Day.
With Veterans Day next month, National Commander Bill Oxford is encouraging posts, districts, counties and departments to create teams and make phone calls. “Our veterans need to know that someone cares, that we The American Legion care,” Oxford said. “Taking care of veterans is what we do and a phone call goes a long way.”
A Buddy Check toolkit that includes scripts for Legionnaires to use when making personal contact is available online at www.legion.org/membership/buddycheck.
During Buddy Check week in March, members of American Legion Buck-Dubiel Post 101 in Somers, Conn., got together over two days for more than five hours each day and called post Legionnaires, as well as other Legionnaires in the area not committed to a specific post.
“It was an experience every one of us thought was fulfilling, and it was very much needed,” Sherri Marquis, Post 101’s public relations director, shared on Legiontown.org. “The team conducted after-action meetings to discuss how to be more effective in reaching our members and how best we could help our Legionnaires and their families based on the information we received from our phone calls.
“There is nothing much better than connecting with others and letting them know that you care.”
Buddy Check weeks will be a new reportable item starting with the 2019-2020 Consolidated Post Report.
Seven ways to organize a Buddy Check
1. Gather up a team if possible to call or personally visit members and former members of The American Legion. If each member in a team of 10 calls just 10 Legionnaires or former Legionnaires, 100 veterans can be reached in one sitting.
2. Visit MyLegion.org for a list of members and former members.
3. Divide up the call list among your team members.
4. Start calling – either from a quiet place inside the post or from your home – to see how the members and former members are doing, ask if they need anything and invite them to any event or activity planned to help celebrate The American Legion’s birthday or Veterans Day.
5. Thank the member or former member in the beginning and at the end of your call.
6. Have your post’s payment procedure at your fingertips if the member or former member wishes to renew, the address to send a check or offer to stop by in person to pick it up (another opportunity to connect).
7. Leave contact information if no one answers the phone.