As part of Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, The American Legion Tango Alpha Lima podcast is dedicating each September episode to raising awareness, identifying solutions and highlighting research related to the veteran suicide epidemic.
To kick off the series this week, Tango Alpha Lima welcomes Dr. David Rudd, who was a psychologist deployed with the Army’s 2nd Armored Division during the Gulf War. Rudd, who has been studying the issue for decades, founded the National Center for Veteran Studies at the University of Utah and continued his work later at the University of Memphis where he served as president.
A lifetime member of The American Legion, Rudd is also involved with the Legion’s “Be the One” campaign. It aims to reduce the veteran suicide rate by empowering veterans and civilians alike to “Be the One” to take appropriate action to save the life of one veteran. The campaign also was highlighted during a panel discussion at the recent American Legion national convention in Milwaukee.
“This campaign is really important,” Rudd said. “The reality is that every one of us knows someone whose lives have been touched by this problem.”
He noted Be the One is intended to reduce the stigma of asking for or seeking mental health treatment.
“There is a significant amount of stigma around mental health issues that really prevent people from pursuing treatment in getting care,” he said, pointing to the warrior culture in the military. “Campaigns like Be the One by The American Legion are critical in helping people realize and understand that being human means you are going to have difficulty in different parts of life and circumstances.”
The issue is more critical now because of the duration of Global War on Terrorism. “Two decades of war are going to create a lot of psychological and emotional challenges,” he said. “These types of campaign helps spread the word and the reality.”
Reducing the veteran suicide rate is also a priority for VA. In a bonus podcast episode recorded last month at the 103rd American Legion national convention, VA Secretary Denis McDonough discussed Be the One and other topics. Catch the episode here.
Both episodes are among more than 140 that are all available in both audio and video formats here. You can also download episodes on iTunes, Stitcher or other major podcast-hosting sites. The video version is available for viewing at the Legion’s YouTube channel.