Special podcast series focuses on veteran suicide

To kick off the third season of the Tango Alpha Lima podcast, The American Legion is focusing attention on identifying solutions for and raising awareness about veteran suicide. This special four-part series focuses on efforts by American Legion members around the United States that are having an impact.

The American Legion encourages you to share these episodes in the hope that they will spread awareness and find solutions to this ongoing crisis.

Please note that these episodes may be triggering for some people. For veterans in crisis, VA has help available 24/7. Call 800-273-8255 and press 1, or text 838255. An online chat is available here.

The first episode was published on Jan. 4 and the other three episodes will follow each day this week. Here are the highlights of each episode:

Part One: American Legion Department of Idaho Adjutant Abe Abrahamson discusses the Idaho American Legion One More Day program. The suicide intervention program uses a peer-to-peer model to work with at-risk veterans. A team of three all have specific tasks to get the veteran help and then be available well after the initial 911 call. Abrahamson, the director of One More Day, believes this formula can be adapted elsewhere. “It may not be a cookie-cutter program for everybody,” he said. “But for those in rural communities this may be another way for them to aid their fellow veterans.” Watch on YouTube or listen here.

Part Two: Air Force veteran Jeffrey Freeman credits The American Legion with saving his life after an attempted suicide. Freeman, a member of Post 190 in Ripon, Calif., was diagnosed with fibromyalgia nine years ago and struggled with being unable to work. After an argument with his wife, Freeman walked out of their home and intentionally into the path of a tractor-trailer. “I have no idea how he missed me,” he recalled. About a month later, Freeman joined The American Legion, where he found camaraderie, and the opportunity to serve with a post honor guard.  “It was a perfect fit for me,” says the current adjutant of District 11. “It’s given me a purpose, a meaning.” Watch on YouTube or listen here.

Part Three: Sean Powers, a member of American Legion 9-11 Memorial Post 2001 in New York City, discusses the New York Police Department’s POPPA (Police Organization Providing Peer Assistance) program. Powers is among the volunteers with POPPA, a volunteer police support network committed to providing a confidential, safe and supportive environment for police officers and retirees. While POPPA, which began in 1996, is geared toward officers, the approach can be scaled to assist veterans who are struggling, Powers says. In fact, he has used his POPPA training to help veterans from the Global War on Terrorism, Vietnam and even World War II. Watch on YouTube or listen here.

Part Four: Virginia Cruse, an Army Reserve officer and combat veteran, found herself on the brink during a deployment, which led her to returning to school to become a licensed professional counselor. Cruse, who works for Military Counseling Center San Antonio, now provides crisis intervention and evidence-based treatment for veterans suffering from PTSD, moral injury, depression and other diagnoses. “When you can see yourself the way others see you, the way loved ones see you, your whole world changes,” said Cruse, an American Legion member of Post 145 in Bristol, Tenn. “And that is the goal of PTSD treatment.” Watch on YouTube here or listen here.

This series as well as all of the more than 100 Tango Alpha Lima episodes are available at this web page. You can also download them on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or other major podcast-hosting sites. You can also view all of the episodes on the Legion’s YouTube channel.