New Jersey Legion Family sends message: ‘We really care’

About 100 Department of New Jersey American Legion Family members walked along the Wildwood Boardwalk to participate in the department’s “Buddy Check 1K Awareness Walk” on June 9. The walk, held in conjunction with the Department of New Jersey’s convention at the Wildwood Convention Center, promoted veteran suicide prevention by conducting Buddy Checks 

“We did the walk to promote the (American Legion’s) Buddy Check program to ensure that we continue to check on our comrades, our fellow veterans, to ensure that they are okay, that they have all the services and provisions they may need,” said Department of New Jersey National Executive Committeeman Chuck Robbins. “And to let them know that we care about them, and that we are here for them if they need anything.”

The participants, which included National Commander James W. “Bill” Oxford, Auxiliary President Nicole Clapp, and Sons of The American Legion National Commander Clint Bolt, walked along the Wildwood Boardwalk wearing T-shirts that read “Buddy Check: Looking out for each other and our fellow veterans.” Robbins said that the boardwalk was busy with tourists and locals who clapped as the Legion Family members walked by and asked what the walk was for.

The American Legion’s Buddy Check program promotes the calling of fellow veterans to check in on their well-being and any needs they may have. “Just picking up the phone and asking, ‘How are you doing? What’s going on? Can we do anything for you?’” said Robbins. 

The Buddy Check program is “a way to reach out and check on them, to see if there’s any assistance we can provide,” Oxford said.

The American Legion’s Buddy Check program toolkit and resource guide for posts and members is available here. The toolkit provides tips on how to organize a Buddy Check team; provides Buddy Check sample scripts when calling members and non-members; a list of quick answers to what The American Legion does to support its fellow veterans and their families; and space to fill out what the department does.

“If we have post closures as we did during the pandemic, we needed to reach out and make sure that if their needs were things that we could help with, we needed to do that,” Clapp said. “That meant picking up medications, that meant picking up the good old-fashion telephone and saying, ‘How are you doing?’”

Robbins feels the 1K Buddy Check walk along the boardwalk helped the Department of New Jersey Legion Family make “an outstanding advancement of this great Buddy Check program. I think we sent a message today that we really care about our fellow buddies, our comrades, our fellow veterans.”