Veteran suicide awareness a part of Colorado Veterans Day event

The annual Veterans Day parade in Longmont, Colo., returned after a two-year hiatus to honor veterans past and present within the community. It was organized by Longmont’s American Legion Post 32.

“Longmont’s always done a parade on Veterans Day,” Post 32 Commander Benny Romero said. “We want to let everyone know that we’re here for them and we all sacrificed something.”

While the annual Veterans Day parade in Longmont serves as a reminder to the community of the sacrifices veterans make every day, local initiatives inspired by American Legion resolutions also played a crucial role in helping veterans.

At the end of the parade route, members from United Church of Christ provided more than 200 free handgun safes to attendees, to bring awareness to proper gun safety and veteran suicide.

“We asked The American Legion to partner with us because we’re aware of the vulnerability of the veteran population,” said United Church of Christ Senior Minister Sarah Verasco, who organized the event after being inspired by The American Legion’s Resolution 11, passed in May 2021 to raise awareness of veteran suicide.

“We’re not telling people to get rid of their guns,” Verasco said. “But if you’re a gun owner, we’re asking you to be as safe as you can. Not just for you but also for your loved ones, and for your neighbors and your community.”

American Legion National Veterans Affairs & Rehabilitation Commission Chairman Ralph Bozella, a member of Post 32, praised the members of United Church of Christ for helping with The American Legion’s initiative at the local level.

“Anything that we can do on the community level to help veterans prevent suicide, we’re going to support that,” Bozella said. “Veteran suicide prevention is the most important thing for veteran’s advocacy right now. It’s the number one priority of The American Legion.”