This is how a state trooper saved a veteran’s life

Connecticut State Trooper Kyle Kaelberer demonstrated how to “Be the One” late at night last Sept. 11 when he came across a young veteran who stopped his truck on a bridge in Tolland County.

Kaelberer, whose grandfather served in the Army during World War II, has been lauded for how he dealt with the veteran following the video that went viral.

“I could hear him in emotional distress as I am walking up to the truck,” explained the 15-year state trooper, who is this week’s special guest on the initial episode of the fourth season of The American Legion Tango Alpha Lima podcast. “Right away, I realized that this is something that is going to take all my attention. This is someone who needs help.”

Kaelberer notes that many viewers of the video noted how “broken” the veteran’s voice sounded. “I could tell right away, by his voice, that this was someone who wanted help and not looking to start trouble.”

The veteran’s body language — waving out the vehicle’s window as Kaelberer approached — was among the clues.

“During our interaction I was able to build a rapport with the man and also have several real similarities, such as we both were raised by single fathers,” he recalled. “I am also fortunate to still be in contact with the young man and he is doing very well.”

His actions demonstrate how veterans, servicemembers, law-enforcement personnel and civilians can take action as part of The American Legion Be the One initiative. The program aims to reduce the number of veteran suicides by empowering everyone to take appropriate action when the situation warrants.

“You really have to put yourself in their situation and it has to happen fast because they are facing the most difficult time in their life at that moment,” he advised. “Think about what you would want to hear, what you would need to be OK, to feel that comfort. Try to have empathy even if you don’t understand what they are going through. Be there and listen.”

 Other topics include:

• “Retrograde,” a riveting documentary about the U.S. military’s final months in Afghanistan. “This trailer is moving and it is artistic,” co-host Ashley Gorbulja raved. The film captures the final nine months of America’s 20-year war in Afghanistan from multiple perspectives, including a deployed Green Beret unit, a young Afghan general and his corps, and civilians trying to flee their homeland amid the Taliban takeover.

• Lockheed Martin Skunk Works is developing a “supercar” with McLaren. According to a press release, they are testing futuristic fighter jet technology and its integration into the manufacturer's supercar design. Its top speed it estimated at 205 mph. “What could go wrong?” co-host Jeff Daly asks while envisioning donning a “Top Gun” outfit while driving the car to the grocery store.

Check out this week’s podcast and the other 160 Tango Alpha Lima episodes available in both audio and video formats here. You can also download episodes on iTunes, Google Play or other major podcast-hosting sites. The video version is available at the Legion’s YouTube channel.