The stay-at-home order initiative from the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in veterans needing assistance with grocery shopping, medication pickup, daily supplies and camaraderie. The way many American Legion posts have identified and fulfilled these needs is through Buddy Checks.
“We continue serving long after wearing the uniform by checking in on our battle buddies and those check-ins are important now as our veterans need us, The American Legion, due to the pandemic,” said American Legion National Commander Bill Oxford said. “Veterans are sheltering in place to remain safe from COVID-19. Because of this they may be feeling lonely, need supplies such as groceries or errands run. We cannot know what our veterans need without making Buddy Checks. So check in with them. Make sure they are okay. And ask how you, The American Legion, can help them during this crisis to remain safe, healthy and feeling cared about.”
American Legion Post 154 in Rathdrum, Idaho, has called all 130 of its members to check on their needs and well-being. Len Crosby, Post 154 finance and legislative officer, said that nearly everyone “expressed appreciation for the check and for the Legion’s concern.”
During the phone calls, Crosby said they learned of an 84-year-old Legionnaire who was having a difficult time getting to the grocery store. Arrangements were made for other Legion members to shop for him and drop the groceries off to his home. Besides the need for groceries, Post 154 members have offered their services to pick up medications and provide travel to medical appointments.
“This is the time for all of us to pull together and serve our fellow Legionnaires and others in our community as we deal with this current crisis,” Crosby said.
Buddy Checks have been a daily occurrence for American Legion Post 18 in Weehawken, N.J., whether that’s through making phone calls, sending a text message, reaching out through social media or visiting members.
“For our older veterans, we have been visiting them in person (keeping distance) to bring them food or medicine,” said Post Commander Chris Page. “We're trying to help them not be out but not trying to isolate them so they're depressed. I personally have been working with some family members who live far away from their loved ones. They appreciate that we can be there for them checking in on them.”
One of the many positive results from making Buddy Checks was getting a lapsed member back into Post 18. “I've made it a point to try and bring back some members who hadn't been around in a while and see about getting them to re-join,” Page said. “We have a lot of programs going on that are enticing new members to join and encouraging old members to come back.”
Page also said that he and his wife have been walking with their dogs in neighborhoods where they haven’t been before to talk to veterans, post members and their families. “They really appreciate that.”
“The importance of checking in hasn't been lost on our members,” Page said. “We'll all be up in age one day and all of us find comfort in knowing that someone will be calling us/ checking in on us then.”
Download the new “How to Perform a Buddy Check During the Coronavirus Pandemic” toolkit that offers tips about how to reach veterans who may be sheltering and social distancing to find out if they need assistance.
The toolkit explains how to assemble a Buddy Check team and how to acquire the names of Legionnaires, past and present, so they can be contacted. The kit also has sample scripts for Buddy Check callers.
Share how you are checking in on veterans and members during this time by sharing on www.legiontown.org.