FROM THE NATIONAL COMMANDER
Dear American Legion Family Members and Friends, The success of American Legion programs is directly related to those who orchestrate them on the grassroots level. Programs such as American Legion Baseball, American Legion Riders and many others were conceived at the local level, grew in popularity and have generated significant impact on the lives of veterans, their families, children and youth, and others throughout our great nation. The American Legion’s Be the One campaign has the potential to not only change lives, but save lives. And the initiative will be successful through efforts from local posts, districts or counties, and departments with support from national. Already, we are seeing successes at the post level. Events are being planned. Conversations are being started. Lives are being saved. But there is so much more we can do.
Thanks to the National Executive Committee, several resolutions approved during last week’s Fall Meetings in Indianapolis create opportunities for doing more. These resolutions call for support for Be the One activities and research into veteran suicide prevention. Among them:
• Resolution No. 7: American Legion Family Day. This resolution creates a special day for all posts to honor community members who performed good deeds. On the last day in April each year, this event will be a wonderful opportunity to honor those who demonstrated how to “Be the One.”
• Resolution No. 14: Access to Care. It calls on VA to improve the timeliness of primary care and mental health appointments for veterans. Some veterans wait months for appointments, which increases the risk of suicide, according to the U.S. Surgeon General and National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention.
• Resolution No. 16: Furthering Research Pertaining to PTSD, TBI and CTE (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy). The resolution encourages veterans to continue their legacy of service to others and consider becoming a brain and/or body donor. Researchers would then be able to better study the effects of head trauma so doctors, combat medics, surgeons and others can better manage patients with PTSD and TBI, and therefore reduce the number of veteran suicides. (A recent episode of the Tango Alpha Lima podcast highlighted the work being done by the Concussion Legacy Foundation. Listen to the episode here.)
• Resolution No. 18: Mental Health Programs for Justice-Involved Veterans. The American Legion is calling on Congress to pass legislation for establishing and funding evidence-supported programs and initiatives directed at providing mental health services to justiceinvolved veterans. Over half of justice-involved veterans have a confirmed mental health diagnosis such as PTSD, all of which require regular mental health support and treatment. The Be the One initiative is in its infancy. Its success will depend on our combined efforts as the nation’s largest and most influential veterans service organization. It’s an honor to be part of this mission, and I thank you for your support and contributions toward saving the lives of our brothers and sisters in uniform.
National Commander Vincent J. “Jim” Troiola