The American Legion’s top priority is to reduce the rate of veteran suicide. Here are answers to common questions about the mission.
By The American Legion
The American Legion launched its Be the One mission several years ago. Since then, it has steadily grown, directly leading to saving the lives of veterans on the brink of suicide, creating more awareness about the issue and pinpointing solutions.
American Legion departments, districts, and posts have thrown their support behind Be the One. American Legion Family members have hosted symposiums, conducted awareness hikes and 5Ks, and provided potentially life-saving resources to veterans in their community.
The national focus for the 2023-2024 ALA administrative year is to increase awareness about the veteran and military suicide epidemic by embracing The American Legion’s Be the One mission — be the one to save one. A few experiences of people close to ALA National President Lisa Williamson have led to this focus for our members.
On the national level, highlights include the creation of resource materials, launch of a monthly Be the One podcast in September, and the debut of a symposium at the 2023 National Convention.
But those achievements only signal the beginning. Following are some common questions and answers about Be the One.
Question: How can my post home best support Be the One?
Answer: There are many ways to lend support. Like other sanctioned American Legion initiatives, it is best to take the concept for Be the One and incorporate it into the needs of your community. For example, a large post in a populous area might want to consider a symposium or similar event where community agencies that support mental health and similar topics could present their information to veterans, their families, and others. A smaller post in a rural area might want to conduct Buddy Checks as a way to educate local veterans about Be the One and the assistance the post and other community groups can provide.
Question: Is there a preferred time to conduct a Be the One event?
Answer: The American Legion has declared the first day of each month as a Be the One day, so that is ideal. But there is such a critical need to spread the word about preventing veteran suicide, that really any day, anytime, anywhere is a good step forward.
Question: Be the One is a great way to promote other initiatives like growing membership, supporting other causes, etc. Can we incorporate Be the One to draw attention to other priorities?
Answer: No. The American Legion’s Be the One mission is the organization’s highest priority, and using those words to promote another initiative would create confusion and detract from the brand.
Question: I’ve seen Be the One incorporated into membership drives that include Be the One panels or other activities. What’s the difference?
Answer: There have been departments, districts, and post homes that have put together multi-pronged events featuring Be the One and other initiatives like a membership drive. It is completely fine to showcase Be the One as part of a larger effort that incorporates other aspects. Just be sure to use Be the One only when highlighting suicide awareness and outreach, and not for other topics.
Question: What promotional materials are available for post homes to use for their Be the One events?
Answer: There are videos, brochures, pop-up banners, wallet-sized cards, and other resources available here. In the first quarter of 2024, additional resources will be added, including a toolkit.
Question: Where can I find out more about Be the One?
Answer: The Be the One webpage is regularly updated with stories, videos, resources, and more.