In March 2019, The American Legion launched its Buddy Check program as a “comradeship campaign” to encourage posts to reach out to veterans in their areas – members, former members and others – to see what The American Legion could do for them.
A year later, the program became even more critical, with the COVID-19 pandemic leading to stay-at-home orders affecting the mental health and well-being of isolated veterans.
Legionnaires across the nation have teamed up to make thousands of Buddy Checks during the pandemic, using phone calls, email or other safe ways to reach out. They’ve found veterans in need of assistance with getting groceries, prescriptions or other supplies, as well as others who just wanted to know someone cared.
As the pandemic approaches its 11th month – with new COVID-19 cases approaching 200,000 a day and deaths averaging close to 3,000 daily – Buddy Checks remain as critical now as in 2020. As Legionnaires continue to reach out to their fellow veterans, we want to be able to share the stories and successes from those efforts.
If your post, district or department already has or is planning Buddy Check campaigns or one-time efforts, whether via the phone, email or in person while observing safety protocols, we want to hear about your efforts. Email email@example.com to let us know what you’ve done or what you’ve got planned, and then share your efforts afterward on www.legiontown.org.
We’ve created a variety of tools to assist with conducting Buddy Checks – including guidance on how to do so during the pandemic, as well as on the importance of recognizing mental health and well-being concerns among veterans during the checks. All of our Buddy Check resources can be found here.
The American Legion also urges all of its members to contact their members of Congress to urge support for S.4657 and H.R.2898, legislation that will require the Department of Veterans Affairs to establish a “Buddy Check Week,” as well as provide educational opportunities, materials and references for veterans to learn more about how to conduct personal wellness checks. The bill also compels VA to expand resources for the Veterans Crisis Line to handle any potential increased volume during the designated week. Contact Congress here.