My fellow Legionnaires, it is an honor and privilege to be elected as your national commander of this great organization. As we continue to build a foundation for the future, we will ensure “No Veteran Left Behind” – my theme for the 2021-2022 year.
There are many consequences for a veteran who is left behind. Isolation, denied benefits, lost opportunity, lack of decent housing or employment are just a few. But the most tragic outcome for a veteran left behind is suicide. We must not let them down. Male, female, Iraq vet, Vietnam vet, Korean vet, World War II vet – it doesn’t matter. We all serve, and we must be there for each other.
More than 114,000 men and women who have served in our armed forces have taken their own lives since 2001. That is nearly double the American lives lost in Vietnam. By 2030, it is estimated that the total of veteran suicides will be 23 times the number of post-9/11 combat deaths.
Each statistic represents a real man, a real woman, and impacts thousands of real families. That is why we must, folks, we must regularly continue our Buddy Checks – not just for past and present members, but for every veteran that we know. If you have any other ideas about what we can stop these tragedies, please share those ideas with your fellow Legionnaires and members of our national staff.
There are many important issues facing veterans, but no issue is more important than this: to save a life. Real stories. Real people. No veteran – and I mean no veteran – left behind.